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Society parishes now exceed 400, Forward in Faith reports

28 October 2016

STANLEY HOWE/GEOGRAPH/COMMONS

MORE than 400 parishes have passed a resolution to provide them with the ministry of a traditionalist bishop since the women-bishops legislation came into force, Forward in Faith (FiF) has revealed.

The House of Bishops’ Declara­tion, which accompanied the Meas­ure, makes pro­­­vision for those who cannot accept the priestly ministry of women, and supersedes the Epis­copal Ministry Act of Synod. For two years since 17 November 2014, Resolutions A and B of the women-priests Measure, and C, of the Act of Synod, have been treated as Declaration resolu­­tions. It has also been possible to pass a new resolution.

Such resolutions do not have to have a specific wording. A template offered by FiF requests that “epis­copal and priestly sacramental and pastoral ministry in this parish be exercised by male bishops at whose consecration a male bishop presided and . . . by male priests ordained by such bishops”.

One source of such episcopal ministry is the Society under the Patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda, led by a Council of Bishops, which includes the three Provincial Episcopal Visitors provided since 1993: the Bishops of Beverley, Ebbsfleet, and Richborough.

FiF, which supports The Society, reports that more than 400 parishes so far have passed a resolution under the Declaration to provide them with the ministry of one of its bishops. Other parishes have passed a resolution that provides for min­istry from the Bishop of Maidstone.

Statistics for Mission 2012 states that, in 2013, there were 368 C par­ishes — request­ing extended epis­copal over­sight. A total of 742 had Resolution A (the parish would not accept a woman priest’s presiding at the eucharist or pronouncing ab­­solu­­tion) and 907 had Resolution B (the parish would not accept a wo­­man as incumbent or priest-in-charge). While the number of A and B parishes fell by 11 and seven per cent respectively between 1999 and 2013, C parishes rose by 24 per cent.

FiF reports that other C parishes have yet to vote on a new resolution. Parishes will con­tinue to be able to pass resolutions under the Declara­tion after 17 No­­vember.

The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, who chairs The Society’s Council of Bishops, said that he was “delighted that so many parishes have voted for a ministry that all can receive, and the oversight of a bishop with whom all will be in full communion. This gives us a firm basis for mission and growth, and for flourishing.”

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