I AM vicar of two groups of rural Anglican churches centred around Middleton and Kirby Misperton, and as such, events in London often seem distant, but not so with last week’s vote in General Synod held in London.

The effect was fairly immediate, particularly as I was participating with parishioners in an assembly the very next day on the pre-arranged theme of ‘treating everyone equally’. Not an easy message for the church to proclaim when the public perception is that women are not treated equally in the Church of England.

I can offer no defence of the outcome of the vote other than to say that the vote was in favour of allowing women to become bishops, just not by enough as a two-thirds majority was required.

It is worth adding that the vote was not just about allowing women to become bishops, it was also about how to ensure that those within the church who do not support the idea are provided for in a way in which they can have confidence.

The vote was not a simple question for or against women bishops. Even so, despite the willingness shown by those who voted in favour, the result has been received with dismay and ridicule in wider society.

I have to say that the result has also been greeted with dismay by every parishioner I have spoken to, and by me also. I personally find it very difficult to represent an organisation that has an institutionalised gender inequality.

So all I can offer is an apology to all who expected something better of the Synod vote, and the thin comfort that the Church of England is in favour of women bishops but as yet has not found a way to realise this – which is clearly not good enough.

Rev Stephen Gamble


• I AM incensed that in 2012 the Church of England is still obsessed with issues of sex and gender to the exclusion of all common sense.

We are asked to “love one another”. As I recall, this instruction is not qualified by any gender or sexuality pecking order.

Cate Tate-Smith, Malton