Hortons of today equally misogynistic

Laurie Barber.
Laurie Barber.
Women clergy and bishops are part of the New Zea-land Anglican Church's offering to God and our communities, writes Laurie Barber, of Alexandra.

If your readers, like me, are fans of the Vicar of Dibley (I have all the DVDs), they will remember well the character, David Horton, the traditionalist, ''well-heeled'' chairman of the parish council. They will recall how vehement he was against Geraldine's appointment as vicar - ''a woman vicar!'' - and his subsequent persuasion that she was ''the bee's knees'' as their priest.

The article, ''Female bishops future hope'' (ODT, 24.11.12) give evidence that the David Hortons of today's Church of England are just as misogynistic as the initial Mr Horton. Apparently, the combination of male domination and ''old school tie'' male camaraderie won the day. The proposal had majority support, but did not secure the necessary two-thirds majority in all three house of the Anglican General Synod. The House of Laity failed to let it pass, by six votes.

The Anglican Diocese of Dunedin elected New Zealand's first woman bishop in 1990 - Dr Penny Jamieson, renowned for her compassionate leadership of clergy and laity alike. A second woman bishop, Victoria Matthews, is the enterprising episcopal leader of Christchurch Anglicans as they seek to rebuild a shattered church and city.

The Anglican Church of Aotearoa-New Zealand is an autonomous church - valuing its historic links with the Church of England, but possessing a daughter's determination to be her own self. Women clergy and women bishops are part of its offering to God and our communities. As one male bishop remarked: ''We cannot do without them!''If any Church of England laity thought they were casting their vote to uphold a New Testament avoidance of woman leadership in the infant church, they were misguided, and ill taught by their clergy. Slavery and

the subjection of women to male domination are conventions of a unenlightened age - and are not the ''law of God''. Paul's genuine letters are filled with the names of women - ''pre-bishops''.

A further point: is not a woman, the Queen, the ''supreme Governor of the Church of England''?

A few years ago I was treated to a lecture by an ecumenical Catholic scholar. She provoked the gathering with her initial question: - ''Where will the Pope be at the start of Vatican 3?''

Her answer was ''Back in Africa, having her first child.''

Such faith - and such hope. I have a similar question: ''Where will the Archbishop of Canterbury be at the start of the Anglican General Synod in 25 years' time?''

• The Rev Dr Laurie Barber is an assistant priest at the Anglican Parish of the Dunstan.