In reading carefully the wording of this paper several thoughts occurred to me which I hope may be helpful in your deliberations:
1) With regard to points 37-39, a ‘single clause’ measure would rely upon more trust and less law. Point 14 articulates that for many within the Church of England the essential priority is one of placing emphasis on trust and grace rather than enforceable safeguards. It seems to me that attempting to place safeguards around trust is anathema to the very meaning of the word. Safeguards cannot be placed on trust or it is no longer trust. The more you try to ensure trust, the more it is undermined.
2) Points 42-44 outline the case for a set of provisions with legal status for ensuring the continued status of a minority. This would of course be in violation of the trust outlined above. But it is difficult to understand how such legalities can be put into place when the practice remains unknown. What would constitute a ‘violation’? And what would be the consequences? This would be setting up a legal minefield, making it very difficult for anyone in ministry to know how to function. Rather than working through any differences in a spirit of trust and communion, the focus would be upon defining what violations have taken place. It is a focus upon retribution rather than forgiveness and grace.
3) We are in the ministry of relationships, relationship with God, relationship with our selves, and relationship with one another and the world. If we look to the marriage vows, the promise to love and honour one another in unending faithfulness is unenforceable. It is a vow based in trust and grace. There is in these vows a hope that love will grow and bear lasting fruit. Surely this is the spirit in which women bishops should be welcomed into the church? Not as a harlot whose behaviour is bound in distrust, but as a loving partner in a grace-filled relationship. Each and every one of us is conscious of our flaws and of the flaws we bring into any loving relationship. And it may be the very thing we believe to be a flaw holds some deeper grace within it. This is the spirit with which our differing members should behave with one another.
In this is a plea for a single clause based on loving trust.
with much respect and hope,
the Rev’d Bonnie Evans-Hills