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