The Venerable Jan McFarlane, Archdeacon of Norwich.

“Last night I was neither proud of the Church of England nor wanted to represent it,” says Archdeacon of Norwich

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
1.52 PM

The Archdeacon of Norwich has yet to put her clerical collar back on today after taking it off at the end of a “disastrous day for the Church” last night.

The Venerable Jan McFarlane said the General Synod’s failure to approve the legislation which would allow women to become bishops in the Church of England “almost feels like a bereavement”.

The draft measure was carried in the houses of bishops and clergy but failed to gain the necessary two thirds majority among the lay members following a vote yesterday.

As a member of the General Synod, Archdeacon McFarlane was at the vote. As she left the meeting at Church House in London she took off her clerical collar saying she was “ashamed to be identified” with the Church.

She said: “I was walking back to my hotel. I’m very conscious that when I’m wearing my clerical collar I am a living representation of an institution that I’m happy and proud to represent.

“Last night I was neither proud of the Church of England nor wanted to represent it. I didn’t want to walk through London with people thinking I believed in what had just happened.”

But speaking this lunch time, the Archdeacon of Norwich said she had yet to put the collar back on.

“My collar and I are still eyeing each other suspiciously,” she said. “We’re thinking ‘are we still friends?’ If the collar is back on this evening, then we’re back in business. If not, we’re in a bit of trouble.”

The archdeacon joined many others from the Church of England and wider community in criticising last night’s decision which is likely to mean another five-year wait before another vote on the issue.

She said she felt “deeply disappointed” by the result but woke this morning feeling more positive.

“When you look at the statistics, what’s apparent is that over 70pc voted in favour. We know 42 of 44 Diocese voted in favour. So actually yesterday the Church of England voted in favour but our synodical process means the legislation can’t go forward,” she said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said today that the Church of England had a “lot of explaining” to do following the vote.

Dr Rowan Williams said the Church had “undoubtedly” lost a “measure of credibility” in wider society following the defeat of the legislation.

He told the General Synod: “We have, to put it very bluntly, a lot of explaining to do.

“Whatever the motivation for voting yesterday, whatever the theological principle on which people acted and spoke, the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society.

“Worse than that, it seems as if we are wilfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society.

“We have some explaining to do, we have as a result of yesterday undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society.”

 What do you think? Leave your comments below.

 See tomorrow’s EDP to find out why EDP columnist Steve Downes is embarrassed to be a member of the Church of England.