(Copied from the blog of Chris Howson, radical Anglican cleric and Chaplain to the University of Sunderland)
Its been a long, long wait for gender equality in the Church of England. Obviously I’m overjoyed at the decision in Synod today, but you also have to also ask, why did it take so long? It’s 2014 for heaven’s sake, not the 1970’s!What makes the CofE so resistant to change? It took more than 80 years of campaigning for female clergy and even after women were accepted as priests, it took a further 20 years to allow them even the possibility of becoming Bishops.The journey taken needs to be examined for lots of good reasons, but the main one is that we need to know when equality will come for our LGBT colleagues. We don’t want to wait another 100 years before we see progress.There are signs of change. Pioneers such as Gene Robinson in the US have paved the way, at great personal cost. But at the moment, the English bit of the Anglican communion seems to be taking a step back from accepting LGBT clergy. They shouldn’t have to rely on the occasional brave Bishop who is prepared to employ an openly Gay priest living with his partner, or an Archdeacon who won’t ask why two of his female clergy are living together. LGBT clergy need to be accepted for who they are and their gifts used to the full. Until we have equality in our churches, all of us in the C of E are strongly inhibited from proclaiming a Gospel of justice and fairness.
Change will come – today’s vote marks a significant step forward for women in the Church. Today we can dare to dream of a church where equality matters, and the institution promotes rather than denies the justice found under the reign of God. Let us celebrate, and work for the next leap forward.