While acknowledging that many Anglicans would profoundly disagree, Treweek said the Church of England should use both male and female pronouns when referring to God. She personally prefers to say neither “he” nor “she”, but “God”. “Sometimes I lapse, but I try not to,” the bishop told the Observer.
“In the creation narratives, we’re told that God created human beings in God’s likeness, and then it goes on to talk about male and female. If I am made in the image of God, then God is not to be seen as male. God is God.”
Some want to use only the feminine gender throughout liturgy and prayers, “and some people have seen that as threatening”. Treweek added: “I am not in the business of wanting to offend anyone, but I do want to gently challenge people.” Language, she said, was “very powerful in shaping people’s views and shaping our culture”.
Treweek will be introduced as one of parliament’s 26 Lords Spiritual by the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the bishop of London, Richard Chartres, after her “writ of summons” is read aloud.
She sent back the first version of the writ because it referred to her as a “right reverend father in God”. Now it describes her simply as “bishop”. “There may be women who’d be happy with ‘right reverend mother in God’, but that doesn’t sit comfortably with me,” she said.