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Diocese of Chichester
Diocese of Chichester
will hazlewood.PNG
UK News

Justin Welby introduces changes to consecration of bishops due to theological differences in Church of England

by Cara Bentley

The Archbishop of Canterbury has introduced new changes to how bishops are consecrated to allow for differences in opinion on female bishops. 

Normally, a new bishop would have an official service to symbolise them taking up their role, during which the laying on of hands would be performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury or York. 

Archbishop Justin has said that the changes will be made "in the light of the pandemic and in awareness of the sad reality that not all in the Church of England agree on issues of ordination". 

From now on, the Archbishops will ask three bishops to consecrate the bishop delegate and an Archbishop will not perform the laying on of hands. 

This allows for new bishops who disagree with the ordination of women, or the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury consecrates female bishops, to be welcomed by bishops they agree with theologically. 

On Wednesday, this happened for this first time at the consecrations of Will Hazlewood, Ruth Bushyager and Hugh Nelson. Will Hazlewood, the now Bishop of Lewes, preferred to be consecrated by clergy who, as he does, take a complementarian view on church roles and therefore would not support female bishops. 

As a result, he was consecrated by the Bishop of Richborough, assisted by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet and The Bishop of Fulham - all of whom are 'flying bishops' who provide oversight to churches in their area who cannot for Biblical reasons accept the oversight of a female leader. 

 

 

The new Bishop of Horsham, Ruth Bushyager, also in the Diocese of Chichester, was consecrated by the Bishop of London, Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, who was assisted by the Bishop of Guildford, Rt Rev Andrew Watson and the Bishop of Dover, Rt Rev Rose Hudson Wilkin - all of whom support female bishops. 

 

 

In a joint statement, Will Hazlewood and Ruth Bushyager said: "We are grateful that the Archbishop of Canterbury has made it possible for us to be consecrated on the same day, in spite of the Covid-19 restrictions. We are hugely looking forward to working together in the same diocese and across theological divisions, united as we are by our faith in Jesus Christ and our calling to live and proclaim his gospel.

"It is untrue to say [as some are reporting] that Prebendary Will Hazlewood declined to be consecrated as bishop of Lewes by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The arrangements for consecrations are the sole responsibility of the Archbishop: we are thankful for the distinctive arrangement he has made for a traditionalist provision."

Justin Welby attended and spoke at the ceremony despite playing a different role and "led all present in a prayer of penitence given our divisions and the sadness that we go on being divided as a church."

The campaign group Women and the Church said in a statement: "Yet again women are meant to accept this public statement about the Church of England's ambiguous attitude to their ministry. The first and second guiding principles make it clear that the Church is non-discriminatory in terms of gender and that it has made up its mind about the full acceptance of the sacramental ministry of women. 

"Once again, it would seem that even our Archbishops are tainted through their affirmation of women's ministry. No wonder we are struggling to attract younger women into ordained ministry."

The group Forward in Faith, who hold a tradition position on gender roles in leadership, wrote of the changes: "We express our gratitude to the Archbishop of Canterbury for making arrangements for Prebendary Will Hazlewood's consecration to the episcopate at Lambeth Palace Chapel...At the moment of consecration all candidates must experience the sacramental assurance and joy of full communion with the bishops who ordain them."

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