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Women dignitaries to be elected as Bishops’ ‘participant observers’

Madeleine Davies

by Madeleine Davies

Posted: 07 Feb 2013 @ 05:35

EIGHT senior women clergy will participate in all meetings of the House of Bishops and its standing committee until there are six female members of the House, it was announced on Thursday.

After a special meeting at Lambeth Palace on Thursday to review progress on enabling women to become bishops "at the earliest possible date", the House announced that eight women would be elected regionally from within bishops' senior staff teams (including deans and archdeacons) as "participant observers", permitted to attend and speak at meetings.

The House reviewed the work of the ten-member working group commissioned to help bring fresh women-bishops legislation to the General Synod in July ( News, 21 December). This included reports from the "intensive, facilitated discussions" held by the group, and 15 other participants, on Tuesday and Wednesday ( News, 25 January).

The House of Bishops said that the working group would shortly issue a consultation document setting out "emerging ideas" and providing members of General Synod with an opportunity to share their views, before the next meeting of the group on 4 March. The facilitation process may be extended at a diocesan and regional level.

The House of Bishops also agreed to a special meeting on 19 September, when the College of Bishops and a group of senior female clergy will meet to "take forward the range of cultural and practical issues about gender and ministry in the Church of England" arising from the "Transformations" initiative launched at Lambeth in September 2011 ( News, 21 September 2011).

The House of Bishops announced in December its intention to discuss with a "larger number of lay and ordained women . . . questions about the culture of the House [of Bishops'] processes and discussions, and how women might more regularly contribute" ( News, 14 December).

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