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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 12:45 GMT
Issue of women clergy hits vote
Women priests
Methodists support the ordination of women as bishops
Disagreement over the role of women in the clergy has encouraged two denominations to vote against unity in Jersey, it is claimed.

The island's Anglican and Methodist churches were asked to vote on whether they should amalgamate to form one unified church.

The island's Methodist church supports the ordination of women bishops while the Anglican church is opposed.

It was hoped the proposal could increase the numbers of people attending the island's churches.

But Reverend Chris White, Methodist media officer, said differences over the role of women within the clergy forced many Methodists to oppose the move.

It puts into question whether or not we really want unity as a single church
The Very Reverend John N Seaford, Dean of Jersey

"There is serious anxiety about the role of women because we are very much in favour of women being ordained as bishops," he said.

"For the Methodists I think it is a fear of all the lengthy discussions we would have to embrace to make the unity happen," he said.

"I think there is also a fear of loss of identity, a fear of absorption into another body, and that loss of Methodist identity was expressed several times during the debate."

'An amalgam'

The debate will now continue at Synod meetings at diocese and national level, before a final decision is made.

"It puts into question whether or not we really want unity as a single church," said the Dean of Jersey, the Very Reverend John N Seaford.

"It may well mean we lose the ethos or the practices of either and you just get an amalgam, which people don't want.

"We actually want to be distinctive, we want to worship in our own unique way," he said.

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