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WATCH concerned at figures

17 February 2017


Minority representative: the Revd Karen Lund, who was announced on Monday as the next Archdeacon of Manchester

Minority representative: the Revd Karen Lund, who was announced on Monday as the next Archdeacon of Manchester

A ROUGHLY equal number of men and women are now being ordained, but women are still “significantly” under-represented in senior posts, a new report from Women and the Church (WATCH) states.

The latest figures on women clerics and Readers are laid out in the WATCH annual report, published at a fringe event at the General Synod, on Tuesday night. The report states that while 232 women and 258 men were ordained in 2015, a “significantly higher proportion of men” were ordained to stipendiary posts (72 per cent to 55 per cent of all two groups). Moreover, it says, the difference is increasing annually.

WATCH is also “disappointed”, it says, that no women were appointed to diocesan sees last year. The report states that three men were appointed, compared with two men and two women in 2015. Three women and four men were appointed to suffragan sees last year compared with five women and nine men the previous year. In 2015, 44 out of 132 archdeacons (33 per cent) were women.

The lack of women suffragans is of particular concern, the report says, because it means that women are not represented in the House of Bishops in some areas of the country (since last June, six female suffragans have had rights of attendance at the House of Bishops). There is also a “worrying discrepancy” between numbers of men and women aged under 40 who were ordained: 11 women under 30, and 37 women between 30 and 40, in 2015, compared with 37 and 81 men, respectively.

The report also states that 13 dioceses had no ex-officio women in Bishop’s senior staff — including London, Durham, and Winchester — and that 22 of the dioceses that did have women on senior staff had just one.

The dioceses of Chichester, London, Winchester, and Blackburn, had the lowest proportion of women among stipendiary parish clergy (between 10 and 15 per cent). This was compared to the highest proportions in Ely (43 per cent), Hereford (34 per cent), and Truro (33 per cent). Seven other dioceses were close to 30 per cent.

The disparity in numbers of male and female lay ministers has also increased: figures suggest that 46 per cent of licensed lay ministers (LLMs) and Readers at the end of 2015 were women, and that women made up 34 per cent of those admitted as LLMs and Readers, and 39 per cent of those in training.

The newly elected chair of WATCH, Canon Emma Percy, said on Tuesday that the report “clearly shows” that there is still a “significant way to travel before women have any degree of equality” within the Church.


Read the report at womenandthechurch.org.

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