An American Episcopalian View of C.of E. & Women Bishops

Women bishops? How American Episcopalians view Church of England vote. (+video)

By Harry Bruinius, Staff writer JULY 15, 2014

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When the Church of England voted Monday to allow women to become ordained as bishops, it broke another “stained glass ceiling.”

A number of Protestant denominations, especially in the United States, have been ordaining women for more than a century, but Monday’s vote holds special significance, given the church’s history and place in Christianity.

Indeed, the Church of England, the mostly-symbolic mother church for an 80-million-member global Anglican community that includes 2.1 million American Episcopalians, is one of the oldest and most conservative of Christian traditions to officially break in full from the long-held requirement of an all-male clergy.

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“I don’t think you can overstate the fact that the Church of England allowing women to take up the role of bishop is going to change the church,” said the Very Reverend June Osborne, dean of the Salisbury Cathedral in southern England, after the vote. “I think it’s going to change our society as well because it’s one more step in accepting that women are really and truly equal in spiritual authority, as well as in leadership in society.”

Like their liturgical cousins in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions – which together make up approximately 1.5 billion of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians – Anglicans generally adhere to Christian rites and rituals that go back at least 1,500 years, if not longer, scholars say. And each believe in the doctrine of “apostolic succession,” the historical claim that all ordinations to Christian ministry follow an unbroken ritual of laying on of hands, going back to the apostles.

For Catholics and Orthodox, the ordination of women remains strictly forbidden for this reason. Christ laid hands on his male apostles, who in turn laid hands on the next generation of ordained male clergy, and so on to the present day. The continuity of this tradition is seen as absolute, and the requirement of an all-male clerical hierarchy is considered a near-infallible teaching.

In the 20th century, however, several local Anglican bishops began to ordain women as priests, generating a furor. The Anglican diocese of Hong Kong and Macao conferred holy orders to a female in 1944 and 1971, and American Episcopal bishops ordained 11 women to the priesthood in 1974. In the Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts in 1989, Barbara Harris became the first ordained bishop in the history of the worldwide Anglican communion.

“I do think that the ordination of women in the Episcopal church really is the gift, I would say, that the Anglican church gives to Christians worldwide,” says Jennifer Hughes, professor of history at the University of California, Riverside, and an ordained Episcopal priest. “Especially since their tradition is anchored in the sacramental and eucharistic tradition.”

The Church of England, too, had begun to ordain women to the priesthood in 1992, and observers say the first bishop could be elected by the end of the year.

But it’s not simply about ordination, many church observers say, but also about what women bring to Christian liturgical ministry.

“[It’s] important to emphasize as new generations of women seek ordination … that women’s ordination rites can, and should, do more than authorize women to serve in a male-dominated profession,” says Jill Crainshaw, professor of worship and liturgical theology at the Divinity School at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., in an e-mail. “Women clergy challenge faith communities to reconsider core values such as how they interpret scripture and how they live out ministry.”

Professor Hughes, who Ms. Harris welcomed into the Episcopal Church when she converted over a decade ago, says the same.

“Certainly my experience as a woman at the altar, with a sacramental ministry, celebrating the eucharist, has been not just a gift, but it’s an incredible experience,” she says.

Though ordained an Episcopalian, Hughes still considers herself a Roman Catholic, the faith she in which she was born and raised. “I was never a lapsed Catholic,” she says. “I’ve begun to think of myself, and to speak of myself as a Roman Catholic woman ordained in the Episcopal Church.”

“I think I’m rare in saying that, I’m unusual articulating that, but I feel given the politics, especially now, I think its really important to assert that, because that’s really the truth,” she says. “I feel strongly about women being equal at every level in the ‘church universal,’ and having access to every level of ministry.”

Monday’s vote by the Church of England, she says, is part of an inevitable and ongoing process in global Christianity.

“I think when you let women [become bishops], they come into step with themselves as vehicles of God’s power,” Hughes says. “And the roof kind of gets blown off of things. I think it’s enough power in some ways to blow right through that stained-glass ceiling, the kind of power that emerges from that experience of ministry.”

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Delay in Women Bishops Was a Blessing ?

Women bishops: delaying this historic vote was a blessing in disguise

Today, in a historic victory, the General Synod of the Church of England has paved the way for women bishops. About time, says chaplain Jemima Thackray, who once opposed the idea. But let’s not be fooled into thinking it’s plain sailing for the CofE from here on

 A crowd of hundreds of women priests stands with Justin Welby
A historic victory has declared that women bishops can be part of the Church of England Photo: John Stillwell/Pool

I am also pleased that the tone of the debate was one of mutual respect and understanding; a change of attitude thanks largely to Archbishop Welby bringing to bear his experience of reconciliation work with militia groups in Africa.

“We’re not a political party where you chuck out the ones you don’t agree with,” he said over the weekend. “The church is a family and you may disagree vehemently with each other but you have to live together.” This approach has been a balm to the wounds inflicted by historical back biting over the issue.

Yet, at the same time as celebrating this victory, I feel exhausted to have been through yet another Synod debate on the subject and weary at the thought of the reconciliation efforts yet to come.

For although women are now certain to be bishops – that is not in question – the new legislation allows parishes who disagree with female oversight to request a male bishop. And if this is disputed then provision has been made for an ombudsman to settle the matter.

And disputes there will be.

Archbishop Justin Welby. Photo: Geoff Pugh

The lazy part of me wishes that the liberal wing of the church could just bulldoze right over the evangelicals and Anglo Catholics who oppose women in leadership, offering no concessions and allowing the church to get on with its primary task of caring for the communities it serves. In my even wilder dreams, I imagine the church at the vanguard of every progressive cause, leading the way in the campaign for nuclear disarmament for example, or gay rights, rather than always being the slowest on the uptake of every social development.

Yet, perhaps the fact that the church always seems to lag behind the rest of society is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps the silver lining of the funereal pace at which it catches up is that change, when it finally comes, is taken up much more holistically – with hearts won rather than just minds beaten into submission.

The unintended consequence of rapid social change is that society often preaches before it practises. In the secular world, a woman can lead a multinational corporation and yet insidious sexism in her boardrooms will still be rife. There’s supposedly been a sexual revolution and yet page 3 still exists. No one is saying that the journey towards gender equality should be slowed down – it’s the job of the courageous few to drive us all forward – but perhaps the one benefit of delay, or resistance, is that those at the back are given a chance to catch up. And so it is with the church: maybe the endless quibbling about women bishops will mean we’ve ended up with something much more sustainable and inclusive in the end.

Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin is expected to become Britain’s first woman bishop. Photo: Clara Molden

I say this as someone who has learnt from personal experience. My confession: ten years ago I would have been standing alongside the likes of Susie Leafe and those other opponents of their own sex being in church leadership (indeed, after the 2012 vote is was revealed thatalmost half the opponents to the episcopate being opened-up to women were, in fact, women).

I agreed with them, on theological grounds, that “the spiritual direction of the church should primarily be in the hands of men.” I believed this, for a time, in my early twenties – not because I had some kind of weird self-hating misogynistic complex, but because I had discovered a faith which made me feel fully alive for the first time in my life. I thought that honouring it meant labouring under the misapprehension that the old ways were the best ways.

I read the Bible literally, thinking that respecting it meant reading it like a car manual – a book of exact instructions for life, not a collection of beautiful writings which are a launch pad into an interpretative adventure. The journey to where I am now – being the person I was created to be – has been slow. And I’d never have got there if I’d just been shouted down by liberals. I made it through many hours of gracious discussion and prayer. The result is that I now really feel what I believe.

When, like me, the church does finally arrive late to the party it is often, miraculously, treated like the guest of honour. I’ve spoken to several non-church-going young women about the issue of female bishops. All of them applauded the church for today’s decision-making, rather than seeing it as an outrage that it’s been legally possible for a state sanctioned institution to exclude women from its top jobs for so long.

So, as the mediated dispute rumbles on over the coming months – and the church faces yet more controversial debates – I hope society continues to have both high and low expectations of us. As Archbishop Welby says, the church is a family – and that, as we all know, takes a lot of work to get right.

Join the conversation around women bishops with Telegraph Wonder Women


In this article from ‘The Telegraph’, by Anglican chaplain, Jemima Thackray, she is able to admit that her former opposition to Women Bishops in the Church of England came from her early conservative beginnings in the Faith. Believing in the literalist understanding of Bible passages concerning the patriarchal nature of the Judeo-Christian ethos in the Early Church, Jemima was one of those women who had thought at the time that leadership was meant to be the sole prerogative of men, and therefore un-Biblical (un-natural?) for women.

However, with the progression of her own situation in the Church, she has come to realise the truth of the later discovery of Saint Paul that – as far as ministry and mission are concerned – and indeed in every other way connected with the propagation of the Faith – “In Christ, there is neither male nor female, Greek nor Jew, master nor slave, but all are baptized by the same Holy Spirit”.

Perhaps next Tuesday’s celebration of the apostolic life and witness of Mary Magdalene (Feast-day, July 22) will help other women to better understand that Jesus himself ‘sent’  (apostello) Mary of Magdala to bring the Good News of his resurrection to the male disciples. The reality there, was that those male disciples did not believe her. Why? Because she was a woman! Things do need to change – especially in the age of enlightenment when women are valued as co-workers in the Mission of the Church as well as the secular world of industry, commerce and learning – not to mention international diplomacy and states-womanship (H.M. The Queen!).

We, in New Zealand, have been used for some time to the ministry of women in our ACANZP setting in the South Pacific. We realise the strength and compassion that women bring into the proclamation and service of the Gospel. Our very own Bishop of Christchurch, The Rt.Reverend Victoria Matthews (a former diocesan bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada, and current member of the A.C.C. Faith and Order Commission) is a splendid example of the influence of a woman – in leading our Diocese of Christchurch into a viable post-earthquake situation, which is proving to be a task that even the most capable of men might find more than daunting.

I thank God for the courage, insight and pastoral and leadership skills of a Woman Bishop

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand



Father Ron Smith


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Rowan Williams – Man of Prayer

Rowan Williams: how Buddhism helps me pray

Former Archbishop of Canterbury reveals intense daily meditation ritual influenced by Buddhism and Orthodox mysticism

Rt Revd Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams: ‘There was a foolish, vain part of me which said, “Ooh, an important job, how nice”‘ Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA

He also spends time pacing slowly and repeatedly prostrating himself as part of an intense early morning ritual of silent meditation and prayer.

The normally private former Archbishop has given a glimpse of his personal devotions in an article for the New Statesman explaining the power of religious ritual in an increasingly secular world.

Lord Williams has spoken in the past about how in his youth he contemplated becoming a monk as well as joining the Orthodox church.

He explained that he draws daily inspiration from the practice, common to both the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, of meditating while repeatedly reciting the “Jesus Prayer”, which says: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner”.

“Over the years increasing exposure to and engagement with the Buddhist world in particular has made me aware of practices not unlike the ‘Jesus Prayer’ and introduced me to disciplines that further enforce the stillness and physical focus that the prayer entails,” he explained

“Walking meditation, pacing very slowly and coordinating each step with an out-breath, is something I have found increasingly important as a preparation for a longer time of silence.

“So: the regular ritual to begin the day when I’m in the house is a matter of an early rise and a brief walking meditation or sometimes a few slow prostrations, before squatting for 30 or 40 minutes (a low stool to support the thighs and reduce the weight on the lower legs) with the ‘Jesus Prayer’: repeating (usually silently) the words as I breathe out, leaving a moment between repetitions to notice the beating of the heart, which will slow down steadily over the period.”

Far from it being like a “magical invocation”, he explained that the routine helps him detach himself from “distracted, wandering images and thoughts”, picturing the human body as like a ‘cave’ through which breath passes.

“If you want to speak theologically about it, it’s a time when you are aware of your body as simply a place where life happens and where, therefore, God ‘happens’: a life lived in you,” he added.

He went on to explain that those who perform such rituals regularly could reach “advanced states” and become aware of an “unbroken inner light”.


This Article from Religious Affairs Editor of ‘The Telegraph’, John Bingham, offers a view of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (now Lord Williams), as a person of prayer. Despite his obviously busy life at the University, Bishop Rowan is wedded to his discipline of rigorous daily prayer and meditation. The fact that he still feels it necessary to resort to this self-discipline speaks volumes about the former archbishop’s spiritual life.

In some ways, Rowan was quite the wrong person to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, His deep spirituality and academic insights – coupled with a clearly liberal sense of justice at the time of his so promising appointment – seemed to be dogged with inhibition against any initiative that was calculated to divide the Anglican Communion Churches – from conservative to liberal, and evangelical to catholic. Some say he was probably too spiritual for the task of an administrator.

A liberal catholic himself, Archbishop Rowan was thought by his similarly inclined contemporaries in the Church to have been the right choice to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, George Carey, whose evangelical provenance had led to a symbiotic relationship with certain Primates of Provincial Churches who were intent on condemning homosexuality as a blot on the escutcheon of Christianity as they interpreted the Scriptures.

Archbishop Rowan’s earliest transgression of his liberal ideology came with the rejection by the conservative Evangelicals in the Church of England of his choice of The Revd.Jeffrey John to become Bishop of Reading. Despite the encouragement of the Bishop of Oxford in choosing Fr.Jeffrey for the Reading suffragan bishopric; Archbishop Rowan decided to formally request J.J. to resile from this position, because of the conservative opposition –  both at home and abroad – to his appointment. Father Jeffrey was a partnered gay priest..  

From this point onwards in his tenure as Archbishop, ++Rowan was chivvied by the opponents of the inclusion of homosexual clergy in the Church to not do anything that would cause them to join in the growing movement in the mainly African Churches in the Communion towards the establishment of what came to be called the Global South, and ultimately the GAFCON group of Churches, that would eventually form their own conservative Anglican sodality based on what they saw as a biblically-based ‘orthodoxy’ founded on their ‘Jerusalem Statement’, formulated by its constituent membership. This new organisation opted to resile from any association with TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, on account of their acceptance of gay people as part and parcel of their respective Church bodies. Some Primates of GAFCON also refused to attend the meeting of Lambeth and the Primates Conferences.

Through all of these schismatic tendencies within the Churches of the Communion, Archbishop Rowan was concerned to do what he could as Primus-inter-pares (First among equals) of the Communion Primates to keep the Communion together. Part of his strategy was to help in the construction of the ‘Anglican Covenant’ movement, which sought to set out the basic tenets on which the diverse Anglican Provinces could agree to live together. Unfortunately, this caused some concern amongst the more liberal Churches of the Communion, who refused to be bound together by what they saw as a restrictive embargo against new initiatives in their back-yards – including, those initiatives already embarked upon by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada in support of the LGBT community in their territorial jurisdiction.

With the setting up of rival Anglican Churches in Canada and North America – by Primates of the Global South/GAFCON Primates, the situation of schismatic separation from the locally-founded TEC and A.C.of C. proceeded apace – independently of the Anglican Consultative Council, which had counselled conservative Provinces of the Communion against such acts of border-crossing.

It was in this atmosphere of division and emerging schismatic activity that the Anglican Covenant Movement stalled. Reaction from both conservative and liberal provinces was generally negative, leading to a Communion-wide tendency to rejection of the Covenant. It was in the wake of this debacle that Archbishop Rowan decided it was time for him to make way for a successor.

One has high hopes of the leadership of Archbishop Justin Welby, whose Evangelical provenance includes a significant influence from his time as a lay-person with the ‘Alpha’ organisation in London. His subsequent ordination as priest led to his time as a Minister of Reconciliation with Coventry Cathedral. In this capacity, he carried out valuable work with the Churches of Africa and their involvement with the oil industry, in which he had previously worked as an executive before his ordination. ++Justin, too, is a prayerful Archbishop, with a Roman Catholic Spiritual Director, and his own links with the monastic movement through the small ecumenical Community he has living with him at Lambeth Palace.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand




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C. of E. General Synod Welcomes Women Bishops Legislation

Jubilation as Church of England’s synod votes to allow female bishops

Anglican lay members vote by three to one to back historic move with even larger majorities among bishops and clergy
 - The Guardian, Monday 14 July 2014
Church of England Clerics take a selfie as they celebrate after the vote to allow female bishops

Clerics at the Church of England synod in York take a ‘selfie’ as they celebrate after the vote to allow female bishops. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty

The Church of England ended at a stroke the male domination of its hierarchy as the General Synod voted on Monday to allow women to be ordained as bishops for the first time.

Applause in the public gallery at the meeting in York greeted theoverwhelming vote in favour of the measure. With a two-to-one vote for the move needed, 152 lay members of the synod were in favour and 45 against. Majorities among bishops and clergy were even greater.

The historic decision came amid threats of parliamentary intervention, and with the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, having prepared contingency plans to dissolve the synod and call fresh elections if the vote had gone the other way. Welby said after the debate that he was “absolutely delighted by the result; grateful to God and to answered prayers”, and that he expected the appointment of a female bishop “to happen as rapidly as possible”.

A crisis was averted by a change of mind, and vote, among lay members. A previous attempt in 2012 failed when 74 lay members voted against, preventing the attainment of the majority among the laity that was needed. The church voted in 1992 to ordain female priests but has spent the last two decades resisting the next step.

But it took a closing speech of astonishing force and passion by a blind evangelical Christian, who became a managing director of Lloyds bank after he had lost his sight, to win over the last waverers. Speaking to the key evangelical community opposed to the measure, John Spence told them: “Your faith is my faith, is all of our faith, and every one of us has a vital role to ensure that the searing vision of the risen Christ is taken out into this country. Trust not misplaced. You like me will come to see … I am confident that we can walk hand in hand, and return the risen Christ to his rightful place at the centre of this country, its conscience and its culture.”

The vote means that the first woman might become a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the spring next year, and her appointment could be announced before the new year. But because the legislative process will not be complete before the synod next meets, in November, it will not be legal to place women on the shortlist for consideration as a diocesan bishop before then.

This means that the earliest a woman might take her place in the synod’s house of bishops is next summer.

The first diocesan job to become open to women is Gloucester, whose next bishop will be chosen at a meeting in early January, followed by Oxford and then Newcastle. Michael Perham, the retiring bishop of Gloucester, said on Monday that sentiment in his diocese was very much in favour of women, and that only one vote had been cast against female bishops in the diocesan synod.

Twenty-seven of the earlier resistors had changed their minds, among them Tom Sutcliffe, who said the measure would now bring “episcopal femininity”, which would enrich the church.

The conservative evangelical block, which holds that men must never be taught by women, was not entirely pacified by the promise that a male bishop will be appointed who shares their view that the “headship” of the church must be male. Several of their speakers expressed the fear that if men and women were treated as equal in the church this would undermine the arguments against samesex marriage, which they now regard as a much more important battle.

Although the influential conservative evangelical Philip Giddings announced early in the debate that he would vote in favour of the new legislation, a number of speakers from his faction, many of them women, announced their continuing opposition and complained that they had been marginalised for their convictions.

But the Anglo-Catholics who had opposed female bishops on grounds of tradition yielded in larger numbers. They have not changed their views, but they are reconciled now to persisting in a church that rejects their understanding of the issue.

The bishop of Chelmsford, praised the spirit of good feeling, even among many of the losers: “The last thing Rowan Williams said to the synod, after the 2012 defeat, was: ‘When there is no trust, put trust in, and you will pull trust out’. And Justin has built his whole strategy on building trust, and making sure that no one feels at the end that they have lost. Of course, some people did, but we have managed good disagreement here. And that is significant for the next set of arguments, about gay marriage.”


Granted that this report, by the Guardian’s Religious Correspondent, Andrew Brown, may espouse  a particular view of the result of the Church of England’s General Synod vote on the enablement of the Ordination of Women to the Episcopate in the C. of E.; there can be no doubt that the applause that greeted the decision reflected the majority feeling on the Synod floor.

Interesting, though, is the fact that it was not the Anglo-Catholics in the Synod that were to prove the most resistant to Women as Bishops (even though it was those of their number who left the Church of England for the R.C. Ordinariate after the ordination of women as priests), but rather the Conservative Evangelicals of ‘Reform’, that might have been the greatest threat to the vote for women bishops. However, in the words of one of them, quoted in this report:

‘ it took a closing speech of astonishing force and passion by a blind evangelical Christian, who became a managing director of Lloyds bank after he had lost his sight, to win over the last waverers. Speaking to the key evangelical community opposed to the measure, John Spence told them: “Your faith is my faith, is all of our faith, and every one of us has a vital role to ensure that the searing vision of the risen Christ is taken out into this country. Trust not misplaced. You like me will come to see … I am confident that we can walk hand in hand, and return the risen Christ to his rightful place at the centre of this country, its conscience and its culture.” ‘

What will need to be looked at now, in the wake of this overwhelming turn-around from the previous G.S. defeat of the legislation, is how the built-in provisions for conscientious objectors to the Measure will be administered to ensure maximum effectiveness of the combined House of Bishops that will result from the inclusion of women into that  formerly all-male precinct.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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‘YES’ Vote for C. of E. Women Bishops – Deo Gratias!

Church of England says yes to women bishops

Posted on: July 14, 2014 4:12 PM

The Revd Rosemarie Mallett celebrates after the historic vote
Photo Credit: Church of England
Related Categories: Englandwomen bishops

By ACNS staff

Women can now become bishops following an historic vote by the Church of England’s General Synod today.

Following a day of debate at the General Synod meeting in York on the issue of women in the episcopate, at least two thirds majority of each house – laity, clergy and bishops – voted in favour of the measure1 to pass.

General Synod votes in favour in all three houses:

  • Bishops: 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 abstention.
  • Clergy: 162 in favour, 25 against, 4 abstentions.
  • Laity: 152 in favour, against 45, 5 abstentions.

This means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year. It also means that the Church of England joins 20 other Provinces or Extra-Provincial dioceses that allow women bishops2.

COFE_York _Synod 2014b

Before the vote, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu asked for the result to be met “with restraint and sensitivity” but when it was announced there was a flurry of cheers.

Today’s vote comes 18 months after the proposal was last voted upon in November 2012 when the proposal failed to achieve the required two thirds majority in the House of Laity.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.

The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds. Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another. As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.

My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.“

SCREENGRAB_York _justinwelby

The legislation approved today includes a House of Bishops declaration, underpinned by five guiding principles and a disputes resolution procedure. Following the vote on the measure which enables women to become Bishops, the Synod voted on enabling legislation (Canon) and also rescinded existing legislation (Act of Synod) as part of a package of measures being proposed.

Following today’s vote the measure moves to the Legislative Committee of General Synod and then to the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament where the legislation will be considered. Subject to Parliamentary approval the measure will return to the General Synod in November of this year where it will come into force after its promulgation (legal formal announcement).

Today’s vote follows a process which began at the 2013 July Synod  which created a steering committee on women bishops, chaired by the Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff, with a mandate to draw up a package of new proposals. Bishop James opened the debate on behalf of the steering committee and responded to the debate urging synod members to vote for the proposals.


Editor’s notes:

1. The motion that was put before the General Synod under Item 503

Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure

To make provision for the consecration of women as bishops and for the continuation of provision for the ordination of women as priests; to repeal the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993; and for connected purposes.

Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure

1 Provision for consecration of women as bishops and for continuation of provision for ordination of women as priests

(1) It shall be lawful for the General Synod to make provision by Canon for enabling women, as well as men, to be consecrated to the office of bishop if they otherwise satisfy the requirements of Canon Law as to the persons who 5 may be consecrated as bishops.

(2) It shall continue to be lawful for the General Synod to make provision by Canon for enabling women, as well as men, to be ordained to the office of priest if they otherwise satisfy the requirements of Canon Law as to the persons who may be ordained as priests.

(3) The Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 (No. 2) is repealed.

2 Amendment of Equality Act

In Schedule 6 to the Equality Act 2010 (c.15), there is added at the end—

4 The office of diocesan or suffragan bishop is not a public office.”

3 Repeals

The enactments mentioned in the Schedule are repealed to the extent specified in the second column of the Schedule.

4 Citation, commencement and extent

(1) This Measure may be cited as the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and 20 Ordination of Women) Measure 20–.

(2) This Measure comes into force on such day as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York may jointly appoint.

(3) Subject to subsections (4) and (5) this Measure extends to the whole of the Provinces of Canterbury and York except the Channel Islands and the Isle of 25 Man.

(4) This Measure may be applied to the Channel Islands, as defined in the Channel Islands (Church Legislation) Measures 1931 and 1957, or either of them, in accordance with those Measures.

(5) If an Act of Tynwald or an instrument made under an Act of Tynwald so 30 provides, this Measure extends to the Isle of Man, subject to such exceptions, adaptation or modifications as may be specified in the Act of Tynwald or instrument.

You can see the full paper (complete with footnotes) here.

2. Women bishops across the Anglican Communion

Provinces and extra-provincial dioceses that have serving women bishops:

Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Australia, Canada, The Episcopal Church, Cuba (extra-provincial diocese), Southern Africa, Ireland, South India

Provinces that allow women bishops but haven’t elected or appointed any to date:

Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America, Japan, Mexico, North India, Philippines, Scotland, Sudan, Tanzania, Wales.

Provinces that don’t allow women bishops:

Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, England, Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Kenya, Korea, Melanesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, South East Asia, Southern Cone, Uganda, West Indies, West Africa, Hong Kong.


“The voting results were as follows:

House of Bishops: Yes 37  No 2  Abstentions 1
House of Clergy: Yes 162  No 25  Abstentions 4
House of Laity: Yes 152  No 45  Abstentions 5 “

See also;

Not much time for rejoicing on my blog, this morning – off to Mass at SMAA, where we will give thanks to God for the decision of ‘Mother Church’ to acknowledge and receive the ministry of Women as Bishops in the Church of England.

Will return later to make a fuller, and more grateful, acknowledgement from my perspective.

Thanks be to God.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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A possible First Woman Bishop for the Church of England?

Will Jane Hedges be the C of E’s first woman bishop?

The Dean of Norwich is one of the favourites if the General Synod vote swings in favour of making history

Dean Jane Hedges: 'I used to get much angrier when I was young,’ she says<br />
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Dean Jane Hedges: ‘I used to get much angrier when I was young,’ she says  Photo:

But not, of course, to the rest of the Church of England, which didn’t agree to female ordination until 1993, by which time Hedges had worked in a bank, got a degree, married and started a family. And it has now spent another 20 years debating whether women can be bishops – with a definitive vote, expected at the General Synod in York on Monday, said to be on a knife-edge.

If the measure does go through – and the Archbishop of Canterbury is said to be considering “radical” steps to force acceptance if it is blocked – 58-year-old Hedges is among those hotly tipped to be the Church of England’s first woman bishop. She is one of only six female cathedral deans in the country (the highest rung on the ladder to which women can aspire).

“Oh no!” she protests at the possibility of promotion. “I’ve only been dean of Norwich Cathedral for six weeks. I’m just getting started here and plan to stay for a good long time.”

She has spent the past eight years as one of the canons of Westminster Abbey, and is still unpacking boxes in the ancient, flinted home that comes with the job in one of England’s most picturesque cathedral closes. Her husband, Chris, a teacher, gave up his job to make the move with her, while her two sons, Jonathan, 23 and Adam, 21, remained in London, where they are studying.

One of the most remarkable features of the long-running saga over female ministry in the Church of England has been the patience and modesty of a generation of very able ordained women, who hide their lights under a bushel for fear of upsetting those who believe they shouldn’t be allowed near an altar. Hedges is no exception.

“You have to step into their shoes,” she says of those who oppose her vocation. “These are people who have grown up in another tradition.”

The same instinct enables her to shrug off those who have rejected her personally as a priest. “Two jobs ago, I was in a rural parish in Devon and a small number of parishioners would not receive communion from me. One elderly lady very quickly came round just by seeing me at the altar and realising that it didn’t matter what gender I was. ‘I must tell the others,’ I remember her saying.”

Another woman took much longer. “It was only when I was about to leave, two years later, that she changed her mind. I found it very moving. People do change, you see, and they will over women bishops. If I look back 20 years to women’s ordination, the level of opposition very quickly settled down. It has only been the debate about women bishops that has brought it up again.”

Odd, I can’t help noticing, that both her doubters were female. “That’s often been the case,” Hedges concedes, a note of sorrow in her voice. “But where a generation of women has grown up to think of their priest as ‘Father’, it leaves a mindset that can be hard to change.”

But it isn’t only older female church-goers who have proved resistant. “Yes, there are young women among the opponents in the General Synod,” Hedges acknowledges. “They come from the more conservative Evangelical part of the Church and have a view that sees men as being in authority. It is all about headship – as far as I understand it.” It is the one time her mask of tolerance slips.

Dealing with those who oppose her ministry is also part of her daily life in Norwich. Though elected to her post unanimously, she works with one cathedral canon who is in the “anti” camp. “He takes the traditional point of view, but so far we have worked very happily side by side. He’s been very helpful to me and I’ve been relying on his wisdom.”

So do they confront their theological differences, or sweep them under the carpet? “We do talk about them. It’s about mutual respect, understanding the other’s position. The Church has an important lesson to teach the world about how that can be made to work.”

It all sounds so reasonable, but doesn’t this impressive, accomplished woman get a bit miffed at having to justify herself simply because God made her a woman? “Sometimes, a little bit,” she concedes, reluctantly. “I used to get much angrier when I was young. But with age comes a widening of horizons and, hopefully, more understanding.”

Being so nice is both the best of the Church of England and the worst. It enables it to be a truly broad church, but, equally, can make it seem spineless.

When, in 2012, the General Synod rejected women bishops because of the blocking votes of a tiny handful of lay members, the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, momentarily lost his cool and accused his Church of being “wilfully blind” and “losing credibility”.

“It was quite disastrous,” Hedges agrees, “and I think there was surprise in the Synod that there was such an outcry. It was a wake-up call. How could we then try to talk about equality, about justice, as we reached out to the community, the really important thing we should be doing, rather than diverting our energy to arguing about women’s ministry?

“In some ways I see that national outrage as encouraging. It meant that people still took the Church of England seriously enough to be cross.”

She is absolutely determined to think the best of everyone – perfect qualifications, then, for being an Anglican bishop.

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