The Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham says that we need to use our given votes wisely.
Bishop Paul used his first presidential address at the meeting of the Diocese of Durham Synod on Saturday (17th May) to remind people of the importance of using our given vote wisely. The address was in advance of the Diocesan Synod voting on he same day on its views on the legislation that would allow Women to be admitted to the Episcopate.
The address come in the week that will see us go to the polls for local and european elections and also ahead of the vote on Women becoming Bishops that will occur in July at the Church of England General Synod in York.
Bishop Paul said: “We will be playing our part in the debate taking place across 43 dioceses about the legislation that would enable the episcopate to be open equally to women as well as men. It is our privilege and responsibility to exercise our vote and do so prayerfully and thoughtfully. “In a year from now we will have just had a General Election. It is concerning that significant numbers of people do not use the privilege and responsibility of using their vote. I hope that over the next 12 months our churches will be at the forefront of encouraging people to talk about the kind of society and nation we want to be, and therefore the kind of government we think best for the coming years. I hope that we can help the debates be wholesome and respectful. I fear a lot of negative and personalised campaigning rather than proper debates about the key issues that we face as the nation moves into a better economic place but many remain caught in poverty and unemployment. Let us plan to offer our churches for hustings and be people who will not only vote ourselves but encourage others to do so also. “We will not all vote the same way as we will reach different conclusions about what is best. But we should all engage fully with the process and be respectful of one another, and speak graciously of all through it.” “But there is an immediate case for us to handle with the European elections this week; and in some areas local elections. “Using the privilege and responsibility of our vote must mean trying to understand the different positions held, viewpoints expressed and implications for our society. It must include asking whether or not the candidates before us are really up to the job of serving well in the role for which they are standing.” “We will reach different conclusions through this process but I do hope we will all use our votes and do so wisely. Across the world many wish they had a vote. We do, so let us use it and use it wisely.” The results of the Durham Diocese vote on the legislation allowing Women to the Episcopate was an overwhelming yes with 94.3% of the voters present at the meeting. Bishop Paul’s presidential address was his first to the Diocesan Synod since taking up office as Bishop of Durham in February. His first presidential address also talked about the strategy and vision for the diocese over the next few years, setting out work on priorities, values and core activities. Download Bishop Paul’s DIOCESAN SYNOD PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS