Wednesday, August 02, 2017

A Welsh Bishop's Mad Belief

In case you missed it, the Welsh have gone all in for women's ordination to the point where they just "enthroned" their second female bishop, and now women make up 1/3 of Welsh bishops. June Osborne, the 72nd Bishop of Llandaff in Wales was enthroned on July 22, 2017 (H/T Ancient Briton).

If history is our guide and the Episcopal organization (TEc) is the reference to which one looks for the effects of women's ordination and female bishops on a Church, the Church in Wales is in for a slide into irrelevance. TEc has been losing members by the millions and women's ordination has done nothing to slow the decline. If anything, the decline seems to have accelerated since women started filling the ranks of the clergy in 1977.

Why is it that the presence of women in the priesthood has done nothing to stem the tide? I think that Bishop June Osborne gave us a hint in her first sermon as Bishop of Llandaff when she said,
“I believe truly, madly and deeply in pastoral ministry within a local context."
Now don't get me wrong, I believe in pastoral ministry too. It is an important part of caring for people. The only problem with a true, mad, and deep belief in pastoral ministry is that it can create an imbalance in the other important components of ministry. Administration, handling staff, teaching, preaching, and most of all evangelizing all tend to become  subordinate to pastoral care. The consequence of an imbalance in ministry is the ruin of the Church.

So here comes the sticky part. Many people entering Episcopal and probably Welsh seminaries already have a strong caring personality type. This may be one of the factors leading to their feeling of a calling to serve others as a priest. Note that I did not say "serve God as a priest". Once placed in a parish, all the years of education cannot keep the average priest from slipping into "pastoral care mode" once they are given charge over a congregation of needy individuals. This is a particular problem for smaller congregations who cannot afford an assistant priest or a deacon.

Like it or not, women are often seen as more caring and therefore may be considered by a bishop who comes from a pastoral background to be better suited for the role of delivering pastoral care.

Once a diocese gets a critical mass of women priests, and enough become bishops, guess what type of priests those bishops are more likely to bring in to take charge of their parish churches?

You got it, priests who also believe "truly madly and deeply" about local pastoral care. More likely than not many of those will be female.

Not an evangelical will be found in the lot.

And the Church will decline.

It is truly maddening. 


  1. Our late bishop John David Schofield had wonderful pastoral gifts and was a gifted preacher. He was one of the last "princely bishops". He frankly admitted that he was a terrible administrator. He had a series of canons to the ordinary who took on this role. Some were terrible also. Fr. Jim Thompson was extraordinary and the diocese did well during his term of service. There are very few people God has supplied with multiple gifts to serve Him. Fresno's great pastor, The late G.L. Johnson is an example.

  2. It is true that there are very few people endowed with the gifts needed to be a bishop. So why does the selection process in TEc and Wales all too often fail to find those people? I have been involved in search processes at the local and diocesan levels and I believe the problem can be traced to biblical illiteracy in the ranks of the laity and pervasive revisionism in the ranks of the clergy.

  3. Women ministers very frequently lean towards the therapeutic model. Feeling strong empathy with sinners gradually becomes trying to make excuses for their behavior, and then to accepting the behavior because condemning it would be so unkind.

    1. I wonder what kind of minister Margaret Thatcher would have made?

  4. I think she would have been a good balance of Law and Gospel.