Strenuous objections to appointment of first woman bishop by Church of Ireland group
‘God’s order for the family and for his church is male headship,’ says Reform Ireland
The Rev Pat Storey, rector of St Augustine’s in Derry, who has been elected as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare
The appointment of the Church of Ireland’s first woman bishop has brought “more disharmony and disorder into God’s church,” a theologically conservative group has claimed.
It follows the annoucement last Friday that Rev Pat Storey, currently rector of St Augustine’s in Derry city, had been chosen as Bishop of Meath and Kildare.
Reform Ireland is believed to include some influential clergy in the Church of Ireland, mostly in Northern Ireland, and and at least one bishop who is believed to have belonged to its sister Reform England group. Whether he will attend the consecration of Rev Storey as a bishop has become a matter of conjecture
The decision to appoint Rev Storey fell to the Church’s House of Bishops following failure of the electoral college for Meath and Kildare to elect a second person to the post on May 28th last. The decision then fell to the House of Bishops.
On January 28th, the same electoral college chose Archdeacon of Meath and Kildare Leslie Stevenson as Bishop.This was approved by the House of Bishops and he was to be consecrated on May 1st last but on April 28th the Archdeacon announced he was declining the post.
The previous night he had been visited by Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson, Bishop of Limerick Trevor Williams and Bishop of Tuam Patrick Rooke. It followed media reports in Belfast that Archdeacon Stevenson, whose first marriage ended in divorce, had a relationship with a woman in the 1990s while rector at Donaghadee, Co Down, just prior to his second marriage. Within the wider Church it is believed that story came from within Reform Ireland.
In a statement subsequent to Archdeacon Stevenson’s announcement that he was declining Meath and Kildare Archbishop Jackson said this was “by his own decision” and that the visit to Archdeacon Stevenson on April 27th was rooted in “their personal concern” for him following “intense” media scrutiny.
Archbishop Jackson added that “the (three) bishops were not representing the House of Bishops, nor were they seeking to revoke the decision of the House of Bishops who had previously confirmed his election.”
This week, and since the announcement that Rev Storey was the latest appointee to Meath and Kildare, Reform Ireland has had a strongly-worded posting on its website objecting in forceful terms. It states that it “has furthered the disorder in God’s church that it originally initiated with the decision to appoint women as presbyters and bishops by an act of Synod in 1990.”
It says “God’s order for the family and for his church is male headship” and that the Church of Ireland “has not only brought more disharmony and disorder into God’s church, but it has also side-lined Christ in his own church.” This “will not only prevent those who believe in God’s agenda for man and woman being able to serve in Meath diocese, but also impair fellowship throughout the Church of Ireland,” it says.