*** DEBUG END ***

Male candidates outnumber female in Synod elections

25 September 2015


Walk and talk: members of the last Synod make their way to the debating chamber at York, this year

Walk and talk: members of the last Synod make their way to the debating chamber at York, this year

ONE third of the candidates who are standing for election to the General Synod are women, although the figure is higher for the laity than for the clergy.

Elections for the new Synod, which has a five-year term, began when the first ballot papers were sent out last Friday. The voting period will be open for at least 21 days in each diocese. The results will be announced in October, before the Synod’s inauguration by the Queen at its November group of sessions.

In total, 851 people (excluding candidates in the Channel Islands and the diocese of Chichester, figures for whom were not available online) are standing for election for the 406 places in the Houses of Clergy and Laity. Of those, 287 are women, 34 per cent of the total. Among the clergy, 28 per cent are women, while among the laity, 39 per cent are.

Some dioceses, such as Birmingham, Derby, Lincoln, and Norwich have an approximately 50-50 split of male and female candidates, whereas others are heavily skewed towards men. The diocese of Bristol has one woman but 14 men standing for election. St Albans has 25 men and six women.

Among the youngest candidates for the House of Laity are a 19-year-old student, Rhian Ainscough, in the diocese of Leicester, and Luke Falvey, a 22-year-old student, in the diocese of Gloucester. In his election address, he wrote that he wanted to represent the “lost generation” of people aged between 18 and 39, who are under-represented in the Church.

Joshua Etheridge, who is 18, is a lay candidate in the diocese of Southwell & Nottingham. He said in his address that he would have particular insight to offer on the issue of homosexuality, as it was very relevant to his peers.

Sexuality and same-sex marriage could prove to be one of the more contentious items on the Synod’s agenda, once the facilitated conversations being held in the dioceses have been completed next March.

Many of the candidates’ election addresses refer to their stance on the issue. At least one diocese (Chelmsford) asked everyone standing for election to answer a question on the topic.

Campaigners on all sides have been encouraging their supporters to stand for election, foreseeing potentially pivotal debates on whether to allow the clergy to enter into or officiate at same-sex marriages (News, 28 August).

Well-known names who are standing for election include the first two Church of England clerics to marry their same-sex partners, Canon Jeremy Pemberton (Lincoln) and the Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain (London).

Jayne Ozanne, a former member of the Synod and the Archbishops’ Council, is also standing, in Oxford. She came out publicly as a lesbian last year, and renounced her former conservative Evangelical views on sexuality.

Also standing for election are three members of the group Living Out, who describe themselves as “same-sex attracted” but committed to upholding traditional teaching on sex and marriage.

Other well-known figures who are standing for election include the chief executive of the Church Army, Mark Russell; the former Conservative MP and Second Church Estates Commissioner Sir Tony Baldry; the historian the Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes; and the chief executive of the CPAS, John Dunnett, as well as Susie Leafe, the director of Reform, and the last quinquennium’s vice-chair of the House of Laity, Tim Hind.

Elections are taking place to a new clergy constituency for the universities and institutions of theological education. It replaces the six former constituencies for the clergy of the universities.


Do members of all Houses of the General Synod have a wide enough mandate? Vote now

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events


Church Times Month

March 2024

For the whole of March, Church Times is offering completely FREE online access, so you can share stories without a paywall.

We are also asking our readers to spread the news of the Church Times among their friends, acquaintances, and fellow churchgoers (and non-churchgoers).

Find out more


Keeping faith in Journalism: a Church Times Webinar

11 March 2024 | 6pm GMT

An expert panel discusses trust between the media and the public

Online Tickets available


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Welcome to the Church Times


You are able to read this for FREE as part of Church Times Promotional Month, where for the whole of March, we are offering unlimited web access to the newspaper.

From next month to explore the Church Times website fully, you will need to sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers will return to only being able to read four articles for free each month.