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Church has ‘lost credibility’ over bishops says Rev Jacquie Birdseye
A DORSET vicar is making a stand after the Church of England rejected the introduction of women bishops.
The Rev Jacquie Birdseye, of the united benefice of Moreton, Woodsford, Crossways and Tincleton, is refusing to wear her clerical collar in protest.
She has spoken out against the decision and claims the Church of England has ‘lost credibility’.
“I have been fighting to see women bishops in the church for 25 years.
“How can the church champion and promote equality and justice if we are not doing it ourselves? We are all equal in the eyes of God.”
The protest comes after a measure to allow women to be bishops passed in the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy of the Church’s governing general synod in November, but failed to gain a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity. It would have needed to pass all three houses to be adopted by the church.
As part of the Women and the Church group (WATCH), Rev Birdseye is wearing a campaign badge instead of her clerical collar.
The national group wants to see the next general synod, which sits from November 2015, approve a law saying women can lawfully be bishops. The synod’s House of Bishops has said it will draw up new proposals to be returned to the synod this July.
The Crossways resident, who has worked at her benefice for eight years, said she will only wear her clerical collar when progress has been made.
“The Church has agreed in principal that women should be bishops, so it is very frustrating.
“I do not think we should have to wait any longer, we must all work now to see change or the issue will slip away.
“I will put my collar back on in July, if and when, progress has been made.”
She added that other clergy from across the UK have also removed their clerical clothing in protest.
“It hasn’t caused me any problems, my parishioners have been very supportive of my decision.
“I have always fought for women’s rights in the church.”
The determined reverend was the first woman to be ordained as deacon straight from Salisbury Theological College in 1988 and was later ordained as a priest in 1994.
She said: “The men who became ordained as deacons alongside me moved on to become priests after one year, while as a woman I had to wait for many years.
“The Church needs to change now, it has lost credibility.”
The Bishop of Salisbury, Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam is also throwing his weight behind a new drive to install women bishops in the Church of England.
He expressed his disappointment after the proposed legislation was rejected. He is calling for swift progress and is working in the diocese to restart the process.
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