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.”