Women bishops approved by 42 out of 44 dioceses

17 November 2011

by Ed Beavan

THE diocesan synods of Liverpool, Newcastle, Oxford, Portsmouth, Southwark, and York debated the draft legislation on women bishops on Saturday, and all six backed it in all three houses.

But York diocesan synod went on to carry a following motion: “This Synod calls upon the House of Bishops, in exercise of its powers under Standing Order 60(b), to amend the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure in the manner proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York at the Revision Stage for the draft Measure.” This was carried by 62 to 24, with six abstentions.

In total, 42 out of the 44 dioceses have voted in favour of the legisla­tion. London and Chichester voted against (News, 21 October).

Following motions have been rejected by 32 out of 44 dioceses. Those that have carried them in­clude Chichester, Exeter, Wakefield, Blackburn, Manchester, Manchester, Europe, and Sheffield.

The campaigning group WATCH (Women and the Church) says that 85 per cent of bishops, 76 per cent of clergy, and 77 per cent of laity voted for the legislation, which is due to return to the General Synod for debate in February.

A spokesman for Forward in Faith, which opposes it, said: “We are reasonably encouraged by the fact that so many dioceses have passed following motions, which will surely place the matter on the agenda of the February Synod.”

GRAS publishes statistics. The C of E is “a third of the way to reaching gender equality”, the Group for Res­cinding the Act of Synod (GRAS) said last week, after publishing a table charting the position of women clergy.

The Furlong Table, named after the late Monica Furlong, who first suggested the publication of such statistics, shows that the average score across all dioceses for its def­inition of gender equality is 34.9 per cent, up from 25.8 per cent in 2005. This percentage is arrived at by com­bining two scores: one for the num­ber of full-time stipendiary women clergy in each diocese, and one for the number of women in senior posts.


GRAS said that a perfect score would be 100 per cent, representing half of all clergy and women in half of all senior posts.

The top-scoring diocese was St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, with 60.7 per cent, which GRAS says indicates that it is almost two-thirds of the way to having equal numbers of male and female clergy in senior posts — more than double its score in 2005.

GRAS’s scores for the dioceses of Canterbury, Birmingham, Exeter, Portsmouth, and Chichester in­creased by more than 100 per cent. St Albans and Ely had gone up by only one per cent since 2005.

The Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, Chaplain of University College, Durham, and a member of the General Synod, helped to com­pile the statistics. The results showed that the Church of England was “moving in the right direction”, she said, but the figures were “still disappointing”, and there was still a lot of “untapped talent” among women in the Church.

She said that, at the moment, there were four female cathedral deans, and 16 women archdeacons, out of a total of 121.

Priest receives threatening messages. The Vicar of St Martin’s, Barton, in Torquay, Prebendary Gorran Chap­man, has received what he described as “cowardly and anonymous threats” in a text message, after the PCC voted to adopt Resolutions A and B under the women-priests Measure. Police are investigating the matter.

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