Comments: Bishop of Llandaff: June Osborne

It is bewildering (and, I think, disturbing) that the CofE never appointed her. Our loss. Huge experience and competence surely by-passed while younger male candidates (including a traditionalist of course) have been found places .... ? I am very glad her gifts have been recognised and honoured and am in no doubt how much she will give to the Church of Wales.

Posted by David Runcorn at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 10:54am BST

No mention of the Welsh language which is strange.

Posted by Leslie Fletcher at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 11:45am BST

What a joy! The news makes my heart rejoice at such a fine appointment of a wonderful lady to the diocese of Cardiff.

The sad loss to Salisbury, and the church of England. But joy to the Church in Wales, and continued Blessing to the Anglican Communion.

God Bless her, her family, and the Diocese of Cardiff.

Fr John Emlyn.

Posted by Fr John Harris-White at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 1:22pm BST

Good heavens, do we actually say "deaconess"? Why then not "priestess" and - God forbid - "bishopess"? (Although actually "shepherdess" has a certain bucolic charm, I must admit). Surely we don't say "waitress" or "stewardess" or "Dungeness" anymore? Why then are deaconesses so special? Please, please - regardless of your sex or gender identity, you're just a plain old deacon.

Posted by rjb at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 2:18pm BST

"Deaconesses" are different from "deacons", whether the latter are male or female. Deaconesses were (re-)introduced into the CofE in the 19th century as a first step towards allowing women to do things. Deaconesses weren't and aren't ordained -- they were a lay order of women. Many women became deaconesses because it gave them a recognised and licensed position in the church. Once the order of deacons was opened to women then most deaconesses were ordained as deacons, though I think a few chose not to be. Nor, I think, has the CofE admitted any deaconesses since then but it is an historical fact that the bishop-elect was a deaconess before being ordained deacon.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 2:45pm BST

I doubt that the Welsh Bishops could have hoped for such a coup. Apparently this appointment has expunged the injustice done to Dr John from our collective memory

Posted by Stanley Shaw at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 3:36pm BST

My apologies, in my excitement I know that I should have referred to the diocese of Llandaff, with its beautiful cathedral. Forgive an 80 plus year-old.

Fr John Emlyn

Posted by Fr John Harris-White at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 3:43pm BST

As has been pointed out already, the word 'deaconess' refers to a non-ordained ministry for women, mentioned in the New Testament.

Posted by William at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 4:01pm BST

To add a little to what Simon Kershaw has written, Deaconesses are covered in a special section of the Canons of the Church of England - Section D "The Order of Deaconesses". Canon D1.5 says "Deaconesses may accept membership of any lay assembly of the Church of England." It is an order specified as only open to women in Canon D1.1, and is therefore a part of church legislation which still embodies discrimination. For further detail see section D of the Canons.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 4:37pm BST

This is such good news. It is a crying shame that the Church of England has not recognised her talents more. This is a class act indeed: a big personality who can fill a big space,a confident and competent administrator who would be distinguished in any walk of life, an energetic and visionary leader, but most of all a thoughtful and caring priest. She is a real grown up, and you don't meet many of those!

Posted by John Pitt-brooke at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 5:10pm BST

'As has been pointed out already, the word 'deaconess' refers to a non-ordained ministry for women, mentioned in the New Testament.'

My Greek is pretty rusty, but I'm not aware the New Testament makes a distinction between male and female deacons. Or between ordained and lay, for that matter.

In the C of E women were first ordained deacon in 1987. Most dioceses ordained the deaconesses (those who wanted to be deacons) first, then ordained new female deacons alongside the men. My first and only meeting with June was when she was still a deaconess; she visited Wycliffe and met with those of us training there.

Posted by Janet Fife at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 5:50pm BST

Stanley — I myself, and perhaps a few others, may have simply been waiting a decent while for Osborne to be justly praised before raising John's disgusting abuse during the process. Certainly it hasn't been forgotten. We have been mentioning this on the facebook, but it is important that we support each other inter-sectionally — while Osborne's appointment is a deep, very overdue, joy for WATCH (and, since she is very much pro-LGBTI, also for 1B1F), John's homophobic treatment still smarts for 1B1F. As allies to one-another (and many members of each being members of the other), we must rejoice in each other's joys and stand in solidarity in each other's woe, even when the two might sometimes coincide.

Posted by DBD at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 5:50pm BST

She sounds awesome! Just a note that the Millennium Development Goals expired in December 2015 and have been replace by the "2030 Agenda," or Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are worth a look and I know that some Anglicans in CoE are on it.

It looks like a great appointment to celebrate, while also keeping in mind the discrimination that JJ has suffered.

Glad to see that I can agree with rjb on something. In music, we despise the term concertmistress for female concertmasters (you would call us leaders)and "conductress" is out of the question, and yet...

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 6:00pm BST

I see that the Presiding Bishop in Wales says that Christian ministry based on openness is a gospel imperative. And that they have found someone with "clear vision, a pastoral heart and a strategic mind." With respect for June Osborne, I nevertheless want to point out they had already had at least one such candidate.

Posted by Stephen De Silva at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 6:02pm BST

The Church of England's Order of Deaconesses will in effect come to an end with the passage of time, as "No woman shall be admitted to the order of deaconesses unless she was accepted for training for admission to that order before the commencement of the Deacons (Ordination of Women) Measure 1986" (ie 16 February 1987). [Canon D2, para 2A]

Posted by Peter Owen at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 6:40pm BST

Just for clarification - deaconesses were ordained by the episcopal laying-on of hands but were still considered to be lay! Certainly Salisbury Diocese now simply lists the date of ordination to the diaconate as being the women's date of ordination as deaconess.

Posted by Jane LLoyd at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 7:12pm BST

But some Reform women deacons act like deaconesses.....some not even preaching to mixed congregations.

Posted by robert ian williams at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 9:35pm BST

Nonetheless, Deaconesses received the laying on of hands with prayer.

In Southwark diocese under Mervyn Stockwood deaconesses were ordained along with male deacons in the 1970s.

What does '1B1F' ?-- used above and means nothing to me, unfortunaely.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 10:14pm BST

'No mention of the Welsh language which is strange.'

Strangely accepted as normal in the UK where Welsh is greatly and shamefully neglected, in the barrage of English, monoglot self-centred arrogance.

Even in Wales, this cultural influence is strong -especially in parts of the South.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 10:18pm BST

June Osborne chaired abd edited the Osborne Report on same-sex relationships, and it was so good, that the leadership of the C of E suppressed it, famously replacing it with something that was bad at the time, and now dire.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 10:22pm BST

Laurie, the reference is to this

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 27 April 2017 at 10:49pm BST

Re-reading and considering my comment above of 22.18 I did not intend a blanket criticism of all English people ! Who are mixed like us all.

I had in mind the powerful effect of the mass English language culture, which has an over-whelming and undermining effect on, in this instance, the cultural life of Wales at every level. Bear in mind that while the Welsh language is now a minority language in its own land, in the C17th George Fox had to take an interpreter with him to translate as he went round Wales preaching ! So there has been a major decline due to factors above and other related factors.

And yet English speakers in Wales are often very defensive about Welsh, and allow themselves to defend against the joys and treasure of the language, that can enrich every life.

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Friday, 28 April 2017 at 12:28am BST

This appointment to Llandaff brings the number of female bishops in the Church in Wales to one third of the total episcopal population. Wales must now hold the record within the Anglican Communion of the highest percentage of women bishops. I wonder how long it will take for neighbouring England to reach that particular fraction?

Posted by Father David at Friday, 28 April 2017 at 5:29am BST

A sure sign as to how secular Wales has become is that the name David, the national Patron Saint, isn't even in the top 100 of names given to male babies born nowadays.
June has her work cut out in converting the Ancient Britons back to the Faith of our Fathers.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 28 April 2017 at 8:25am BST

Whilst this appointment is excellent in many ways (and I am sure it will be a great success), I have several misgivings:

1. It was long argued that one of the reasons why Anglicanism collapsed in Wales during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was that the four bishops were almost always English and were not capable of speaking Welsh. Inevitably, this compromised their pastorates to a significant extent (though in several regrettable instances absenteeism compounded this problem – and Llandaff was notorious for its absenteeism since the see was so poorly endowed that it was frequently held in commendam with an English deanery). So, I understand that from the third quarter of the nineteenth century the policy was that Welsh bishops should be fluent or at least fairly competent in Welsh as part of the renewal of the Church in Wales; this was in the context of increasingly strident calls for disestablishment and disendowment. Even after disestablishment the view was that bishops must have an ability in Welsh lest the Church be viewed as a narrow and exclusive denomination catering chiefly to the Anglophone middle class and gentry. It is possible that there will be some within the Church in Wales who will be sensitive to this historical baggage. Of course Llandaff is one of the more Anglophone parts of Wales, but linguistic sensitivities may be pronounced in some places.

2. Unless June Osborne has a Welsh background, this does smack of a reversion of the custom of putting English clergy into prominent positions in the Welsh church. Her career seems to have been spent entirely in England. Despite long residence in England Jeffrey John was, at least, a child of the Valleys. Of course, it might be argued that the Church of England has lately had a Welsh archbishop; fair enough, but England has not suffered from the legacy of a quasi-colonial system of preferment, as used to be the case with Wales.

3. The fact that the Llandaff diocese – the most important in the principality – has had to go outside the Church in Wales twice in order to obtain a suitable bishop may suggest that there is insufficient talent within the Welsh province, which I hope (and am sure) is not true. In any event, it can hardly be good for the morale of the clergy of the Church in Wales, however effective she proves to be.

Posted by Froghole at Friday, 28 April 2017 at 10:01am BST

Just wanted to clarify, as someone whose Greek is only slightly rusty, the New Testament categorically does not make a gender distinction that can reasonably be translated as 'deaconess'. Phoebe, specifically named as a deacon in Romans 16, is referred to with the masculine form διάκονος/diakonos.

A case can be made for translating diakonos as 'servant' rather than 'deacon'- it's used in the sense of 'servant' elsewhere in Romans- but if you're going to translate it as 'deacon' there is absolutely no reason to distinguish the description of Phoebe from that of male deacons elsewhere in the NT epistles, unless you are deliberately trying to suppress evidence pointing to women's ministry in the early church.

Anyway, it remains a terrible shame that the church continues to be denied Jeffrey John's obvious gifts in the episcopate, but June Osborne is a really cracking appointment.

Posted by Junia at Friday, 28 April 2017 at 12:54pm BST

"...there is insufficient talent within the Welsh province, which I hope (and am sure) is not true" says @Froghole. I am afraid it is all-too-true. As a long-standing parishioner in the Diocese of Llandaff, living within spitting distance of June Osborne's new abode, I have witnessed the talent drain over which our previous Archbishop has presided. Too many gifted Welsh clergy have gone to the Church of England because there was no place for them amid the predictable ecclesiastical functionaries who would toe the archiepiscopal line. When a gifted woman from England became Dean of Llandaff several years ago, she soon saw the writing on the wall, realised she could not penetrate the brick wall of absolute obdurate power, and wisely hopped-it back to England after 60 days.

I am not an enthusiastic supporter of womens' ordination per se (I have just never been convinced by the arguments over and above the issue of world-wide catholicity). Nonetheless, I am amazed, but grateful, that the Bishops of the Church in Wales have shown real vision, gone for it, and brought in a bishop-elect who will shake the very foundations of this small, declining outback of the Anglican Communion.

I realise that Dean Osborne is not everyone's cup of tea, and does not tick the boxes of prevailing orthodoxy in the C of E. However, she is an energetic professional who, I am reliably informed, will not tolerate the self-satisfied mediocrity that has been too long a feature of life in the Church in Wales. I really do hope she will do something to reverse the abysmal decisions that have been made about the training and recruitment of clergy here. There is a huge paucity of young, intellectually able and professionally trained clergy - of both genders.

What is exciting is that she does not have a visceral phobia for catholic Christianity (unlike her predecessor-to-be). I would dare to hope that someone of her background and experience would be generous and magnanimous enough to realise that healing a divided Diocese like Llandaff must involve some accommodation of those who cannot accept the ordination of women. She has generously allowed her Cathedral to be used for Chrism Masses by the PEV in the past; and I would hope her commitment to be Bishop for the whole Diocese would involve more insightful care for traditionalist parishes. That would show true leadership - something of which she is not afraid, apparently.

Posted by Nigel Evans at Friday, 28 April 2017 at 2:31pm BST

Well, that's Sexism dealt to in the Church of Wales. Now; what about homophobia?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 30 April 2017 at 11:44am BST
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