Church in Wales to vote on women bishops

Posted on: August 15, 2013 2:58 PM

Related Categories: Waleswomen bishops

From the Church in Wales

The Church in Wales will decide next month whether or not to allow women priests to be ordained as bishops.

A Bill, proposed by the six diocesan bishops of the Church, will be voted on by the 144 members of the Church’s legislative arm, the Governing Body, at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, at Lampeter, on Thursday, September 12.

The Bill will need a two-thirds majority in each of the three sections of the Governing Body in order to be passed – the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity. However, if it is passed, it will not come into effect until a second Bill, outlining a scheme of provision for those who cannot accept women bishops, is written and passed.

The process will start with a vote on three proposed amendments to the Bill.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, says, “Since we ordain women as deacons and priests it makes no theological sense not to ordain them as bishops since we believe in the three fold order of ministry.  That is why I and my fellow bishops will be asking members of the Governing Body to vote in favour of the Bill.  It would not be able to come into effect immediately but at least we would have established the principle to which I believe most people in the Church assent.”

This will be the Bishops’ second attempt to pass a Bill to ordain women as bishops. Their first Bill was defeated in April 2008 when it failed, by three votes, to secure a two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy.

The two-day Governing Body meeting begins on Wednesday at 1.30pm with an address by the President, the Archbishop of Wales.  The Bill to enable the Consecration of Women as Bishops will be introduced on Thursday at 9.30am.

Also on the Agenda are:

  • Church in Wales Review – a progress report on the Review which will include a motion to support a framework for setting up “Ministry Areas” across Wales. A Ministry Area is a large group of churches led by a team of clergy and lay people. They are designed to replace the traditional parish system as a more effective structure for ministry for today’s society.
  • Schools – the launch of a bond to strengthen the relationship between church schools in Wales and the National Society for Promoting Religious Education. The Revd Janina Ainsworth, the General Secretary of the National Society, will address the Governing Body, before she joins the Archbishop to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the NS and the Church in Wales.  The Memorandum marks a restatement of common purpose and shared commitment to the 25,000 pupils, staff and communities of the 165 Church in Wales schools.

The Bill and its proposed amendments, as well as the full Agenda of the Governing Body meeting, will be on the Church in Wales website after August 28 at:


“However, if it is passed, it will not come into effect until a second Bill, outlining a scheme of provision for those who cannot accept women bishops, is written and passed.”   – Church in Wales announcement – 

From the above statement, it would seem that the Church in Wales (Anglican) is set to provide ‘special episcopal oversight’ for those in the Church who are opposed to Women Bishops – this, despite the fact that, if the legislation to enable Women Bishops is passed by a two-thirds majority in each House of the governing Body of the C. in W., the Church will go forward to ordain them – (but, not before dissidents are given a let-out clause in a following measure to provide alternative episcopal oversight).

Here again, as in the Church of England, there would appear to be the possibility of the Church in Wales continuing the odd arrangement whereby those who do not believe women can be given leadership roles in the Church will be allowed to ignore their ministry. What does this say about continuing  institutional discrimination against women in the Church of Wales?

The real irony of this situation is that the announcement was made on the day when a woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, is honoured in the Church’s lectionary.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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