IF you were to put on a service to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Act of Synod, you would expect the church to be full of women priests. For, after all, if there had been no Act of Synod, the momentous General Synod vote of November 1992, permitting the experiment of women priests in the CofE, would never have been translated into the actual ordinations of 1994. No Act of Synod, no women priests.

But that was never going to happen, because individual dioceses have organized separate celebrations for the anniversaries of the ordinations themselves. The Act of Synod service was therefore titled ‘A Mass of Thanksgiving’ and included the tenth anniversaries of the episcopal ordinations of the Rt Revd Martyn Jarrett and the Rt Revd John Gaisford. That made more sense! And St Bartholomew’s, Armley, was duly filled with faithful laity and clergy, and some more bishops. We heard too the important statement/sermon by the Archbishop of York (reproduced above).

To the annoyance of many on the managerial wing, the PEVs have shown a ‘new way of being bishop’. Some of us had recently attended a FiF meeting with a diocesan bishop who had spoken of a PEV as a ‘non-job’. Benighted fool! Many, many people are grateful for the pastoral ministry of Bishops Martyn and John. The thanksgiving was real.

Now I don’t want to be churlish, but thanks must also be offered for the laity of our ABC parishes. It is those who have had the courage and commitment to vote all three resolutions who have enabled this ministry for which we gave thanks. The PEVs’ pastoral care goes far wider than the petitioning parishes, and rightly so, but it could not have happened without the foundation of the ABC parishes. No petitions, no PEVs; no PEVs and the CofE would be the poorer.

The great majority of those who attended that service had for one reason or another taken no part in the provisions of the Act of Synod. There is much encouragement to know and experience the fact of so many parishes on the side of the angels; but I drove back to our rural parish with a quiet pride in its PCC, and not a little gratitude.