Dr Phillip Giddings, who chairs the General Synod’s House of Laity and a driving force in the recent controversial vote which led to the rejection of women bishops, is facing a vote of no confidence.

Lou Henderson of the General Synod press office said: “There has been a call for a meeting of the House of Laity to discuss a motion of no confidence in the chairman. There is no date for the meeting yet but it is likely to be in January.”

Dr Giddings told getreading yesterday: “It is very disappointing.”

When asked why he thought the members of the House of Laity were calling for the vote, he said: “Well you would have to ask them. It is very unusual, in fact I think it is unprecedented. I really don’t think I want to comment any further than that.”

It is understood the move to oust Dr Giddings is a bid to bring forward a further vote on the subject of women bishops at an earlier date than the next election of the new synod in three years’ time.

Like everyone else in the Neighbourhood, I am extremely disappointed in the result of the General Synod's vote concerning women bishops. However, I am also more than a bit worried about the moves by powerful people within the Church of England to override the vote because it is not the result that they wanted.

It wasn't that long ago that we were all wonderfully surprised by the dioceses of the Church of England voting against the acceptance of the Anglican Covenant. I remember that the ensuing sour grapes from the proponents of the Covenant included veiled threats about getting the Covenant imposed on us by other means and I remember being very worried about this possibility. I would have kicked up merry hell if the Grand Tufti had tried to ignore the wishes of the Church membership.

Therefore, I think it would be very hypocritical of me, very hypocritical of us, to call for or take part in moves to overturn the women bishops' vote by devious means. In fact, I think, painful as it is, that we have to accept the defeat because it was inflicted on us in strict accordance with Synod practice. I think we should wait the three years until the next Synod membership is sworn in. If we don't then we will be guilty of playing the same sort of game that Philip Giddings played when he bullied Rowan Williams into betraying his friend Jeffrey John, namely the political game. I hope we are above such behaviour.

Of course, we should not do nothing whilst we wait. We could, and should, campaign to get General Synod to adopt more democratic procedures especially when it comes to the election of its lay members. Philip Giddings represents a very small percentage of the laity of the Church of England and yet, over the last ten years, he has been able to dictate much of the way that the hierarchy has dealt with the controversies within the Anglican Communion and at home. If all the members of the laity got a direct say in who represented them at General Synod we may still lose any vote increasing the acceptance of gay people in our denomination but there would, I am sure, be no trouble in getting a vote through allowing women to live in big houses, earn more money than everybody else, cynically abuse the church's exemptions from employment law and, above all, tell everyone else what to do. Because, evidently, that's what equality is all about.



  1. 42 of 44 dioceses in the Church of England voted in favor of women bishops. Though the House of Laity defeated the measure by a few votes, not reaching the two-thirds super-majority in GS, the motion passed by a comfortable simple majority in all three Houses. Remember, the Anglican Covenant needed only a simple majority in GS to be adopted. Why was that? The C of E is not my church, so I won’t express an opinion about what should be done now.

    • The way you don’t express an opinion is so eloquent and so lacking in ambiguity.

      Actually I did go on about the unfairness of the Covenant not needing to get a two third majority in favour. No doubt it was one of the reasons why I single handedly (unacknowledged) blew the Covenant ship out of the water in England. I want express an opinion on those who claimed all the glory for themselves having joined the fray at the eleventh hour when priests were no longer getting sacked for opposing Rowan’s evil plan.

    • Of course, I come down clearly on the side of women bishops, and I see the delay in the Church of England as tragic – well something between tragedy and farce.

      As for the covenant, if I recall correctly, a good many English people worked hard for quite a long time – it seemed like forever – even as a group of us in the US, Canada, and other churches encouraged them and helped them as best we could across the ocean divide.

    • Jonathan, despite your ad hominem and sexist comment, I give you credit for sounding the alarm about the covenant in England. You were the first, so far as I can remember. After the movement got going a good many English folk worked tirelessly on defeating the covenant. So “single-handedly” is a bit of a stretch.

  2. Well,it’s a bit of an exaggeration, as is my comment about the selectiveness of women. But, for a while, it was singlehanded and I did get the campaign in England going without any acknowledgement.

    However, today I struck again. Colin Coward made a comment in his BBC interview this evening that came straight from me (but delivered far more diplomatically than I would have done it). So, I’m feeling quite influential again.

  3. MP, you surprise me. I thought you had written off the CofE—and their OldSchoolTie bishops—and were ready for TEC/UK.

    Now you’re all “I think we should wait the three years”?

    What do you think of the CofE having Parliament pass a law saying the CofE MAY NOT (regardless of conscience) conduct SSMs, when other faith institutions may?

    My maternally-handed down Anglophilia, esp where “Mother Church” is concerned, is rapidly waning [I can see Yours Truly, should I ever cross the Pond again, worshipping w/ the Quakers. I might leave them (Eucharistically) hungry, but at least not anthropologically assaulted!]

    • I am about changing laws not breaking them (although I respect those who do out of conscience). I worry that if we ignore due process then it might backfire on us later.