Robert Ashton is surprised that there could be any objections to the possibility of a woman as the next Bishop of Norwich, and explains why he feels this way.
I could not believe my eyes the other morning when I opened the EDP and saw that a rector within our Diocese is saying he’d be against the appointment of a woman Bishop. Even more worrying, was that this was not some ancient crusty old cleric, still living in the past, but a spritely 57yr old, years away from his sell-by date.
Of course, as a Quaker I worship in a world where there are no paid ministers. Instead we appoint elders from within our Meeting to nurture our spiritual lives and oversee pastoral matters. Gender, race or even religious upbringings have no bearing on an individual’s ability to accept this responsibility and make a difference to our lives.
At a time when church attendance is falling, and most regular worshippers are in the final third of their lives, every church must work harder to introduce busy young people to the wonder of knowing God. That inevitably means moving with the times and sensitively striking a balance between maintaining tradition and accepting that our society is changing.
The Norwich Diocese already has some amazing women who have answered the call of God and been ordained. We have a woman Prime Minister, a Queen in Buckingham Palace and many other powerful examples that women are equal to men in terms of their ability and impact.
I rather hope that Norwich does see the enthronement of its first woman bishop. Norfolk has led the nation in so many ways over the centuries and rightly has a reputation for ‘doing different.’ Let’s show the world that we are willing to embrace change and adapt. We might then start to see church attendance grow!
To read the Network Norfolk story about the debate, click here.
The image of Norwich Cathedral is courtesy of Ruth Starkings.
Robert Ashton is an author, publisher, social entrepreneur and Quaker.
For more about Turnpike Business Centre, Robert’s ethical business centre, click here.
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