A vigil in Westminster Abbey tomorrow morning will mark the start of three days that could change the Anglican church for ever. As the General Synod ”“ the ruling body of the Church of England ”“ meets in London tomorrow ahead of a crucial vote on Tuesday to decide whether women can be consecrated as bishops, the well-wishers in Westminster Abbey will be clasping their hands together in the hope of a smooth and harmonious vote.
But, with Synod insiders already predicting trouble, the prayers are likely to be in vain. Since the announcement of Justin Welby as the future Archbishop of Canterbury ”“ and his use of his maiden speech in the job to throw his support behind women reaching the most senior positions in the church ”“ many are cautiously optimistic that the measure will finally be voted through. But, if it is, it is unlikely to be without a fight. Online and email campaigns have been building grassroots support for a “yes” vote at a rapid rate. A website called Yes2womenbishops, which was set up only two weeks ago, has already had more than 11,000 visitors, and nearly 2,000 parishioners have used it to email their Synod representative.