Friday, 15 June 2007

GRAS - Senior Women Clergy Numbers Rise

press release from the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod:

GRAS Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod
Press Release – For Immediate Release
Senior Women Clergy Numbers Rise

Numbers of women clergy deployed in the dioceses in the Church of England have risen to an average of 25.8 of all clergy in the dioceses. Women now account for 17% of full time stipendiary clergy in the dioceses and for 8% of senior posts, including deans, archdeacons, other cathedral clergy and area deans.

These statistics have been gathered for the second time in five years in the Furlong Table, named in honour of the late Monica Furlong. Furlong, a witty and incisive writer and observer of the Church of England, and also a fearless and tireless campaigner for the ordination of women, suggested to a group of young female ordinands that statistics be gathered to monitor the deployment and promotion of women clergy in the Church of England.

The first Furlong Table was produced in 2000 for GRAS, the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod, by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, Catherine Butt and Leah Vasey-Saunders, all then students at Cranmer Hall theological college in Durham. The updated figures for 2005 have been produced by the Reverend Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, now Chaplain and Solway Fellow of University College, Durham.

GRAS believes that

  • Women should be ordained bishops as soon as possible.
  • The legislation should be simple, clear, final and unconditional.
  • Provision for opponents in conscience should not be part of the legislation but should be dealt with separately by each bishop.
  • To restore and maintain trust in the integrity and authority of the episcopate and the unity of the church each Diocesan bishop should be responsible for everyone in the Diocese and should be responsible for making the arrangements he or she judges to be right, for the care of opponents.
  • The Act of Synod should be rescinded as proposed by the Diocese of Southwark motion, and General Synod should debate this motion as soon as possible.
  • Since the Church has accepted the orders of women as priests and bishops, then in future those being ordained should accept those orders as valid in accordance with Canon A4.


Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes
University College, Durham, DH1 3RW
Tel: 0191-334-4116

Revd Canon Peggy Jackson
The Rectory, 170 Sheen Lane, SW14 8LZ
Tel: 020-8876-4816

Position Diocese Score Change in
Change in
Score in
1 Oxford 39.9 +15 19.2 20.7
2 St.Albans 39.3 +8 15.0 24.3
3 Ely 38.9 +12 17.6 21.3
4 Worcester 36.9 -1 5.0 31.9
5 Leicester 36.7 -3 3.8 32.9
6 Southwark 34.3 -5 -0.5 34.8
7 Ripon 34.2 -3 2.6 31.6
8 Durham 33.6 +26 20.3 13.3
9 Liverpool 32.9 +10 13.2 19.7
10 Hereford 32.7 +2 10.5 22.2
11 Peterborough 31.9 +15 14.4 17.5
12 Salisbury 30.8 -3 5.7 25.1
13 Wakefield 30.6 +4 10.0 20.6
14 Truro 29.7 +26 23.2 6.5
15 Sheffield 29.0 -9 0.3 28.7
16 Southwell 28.7 -11 -0.7 29.4
17 Norwich 28.0 +6 9.5 18.5
18 Derby 27.9 +17 14.9 13.0
19 St.Edms & Ipswich 27.5 -6 5.5 22.0
20 Chelmsford 27.4 0 7.7 19.7
  Average 25.8   7.2 18.6
21 Lincoln 25.7 -13 0.0 25.7
22 Manchester 25.7 +3 8.0 17.7
23 Gloucester 25.1 -9 3.7 21.4
24 Bath & Wells 25.0 +9 11.6 13.4
25 Canterbury 24.7 +7 11.2 13.5
26 York 24.7 +4 9.2 15.5
27 London 23.7 +2 8.2 15.5
28 Newcastle 23.1 -4 5.3 17.8
29 Coventry 23.0 -2 7.1 15.9
30 Guildford 22.9 -23 -5.5 28.4
31 Bradford 22.6 +6 11.8 10.8
32 Lichfield 21.9 -11 2.9 19.0
33 Chester 21.7 -5 5.9 15.8
34 Birmingham 20.3 -12 1.7 18.6
35 Rochester 19.9 -17 -0.7 20.6
36 Carlisle 19.0 +2 9.1 9.9
37 Exeter 17.8 -1 5.5 12.3
38 Bristol 17.1 -27 -6.0 23.1
39 Portsmouth 14.4 -8 -0.2 14.6
40 Winchester 13.5 -1 5.2 8.3
41 Sodor and Man 11.8 +2 11.8 0.0
42 Blackburn 10.4 -1 4.4 6.0
43 Chichester 5.5 -1 2.9 2.6

Notes for Editors

The Furlong Table measures the numbers of women clergy deployed in each of the dioceses in the Church of England. The average points score has risen by over a third from 2000 to 2005, from 18.6 to 25.8. This is made up of an on average doubling of the points received from women in senior posts, together with a 50% increase in the number of other ordained women in full time stipendiary posts in the dioceses.

A perfect score in this table would be 100, representing 50% of all other full time stipendiary clergy in a diocese being female. The top score of 39.9 is still disappointingly low, but it is moving in the right direction. This means that in Oxford, which rose 15 points to become the best diocese in the Church of England for women’s deployment in 2005, women had been appointed to 17% of senior clergy posts, and 23% of other clergy were female.

Overall, in 2005, women represented 5% of cathedral deans, 6% of archdeacons, 14% of other cathedral clergy and 8% of area/rural deans.

The greatest percentage change was for Truro Diocese, which saw its score increase by 354%! Truro was joint with Durham Diocese for the biggest rise up the table, both gaining a massive 26 places. Truro rose from 40th place (out of 43) to 14th, whilst Durham rose from 34th to 8th place.

Other diocese which saw big gains were Derby, up 17 places from 35th to 18th, and Peterborough, up 15 places from 26th to 11th place. Three diocese have fallen badly in the table: Bristol fell 27 places, from 11th to 38th, Guildford fell 23 places from 7th to 30th, and Rochester fell 17 places from 18th to 35th place.

/ends Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 15 June 2007 at 9:54pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England


Some of the low positions and those falling may well be linked to unsympathetic diocesans or suffragans? I don't really see how anyone who doesn't agree with women's ordination can be anything other than a flying bishop these days....

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 15 June 2007 at 11:35pm BST

Interesting, but far more so to those with the inside knowledge to determine which gains and falls result from acts of commission and which from those of omission. Pointers would be appreciated by the uninformed.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Saturday, 16 June 2007 at 2:22am BST


one can be a flying bishop, or go to the dio of chichester.

Posted by: Dennis on Saturday, 16 June 2007 at 7:34am BST

From Merseymike:

"I don't really see how anyone who doesn't agree with women's ordination can be anything other than a flying bishop these days...."

Why? Isn't their position recognised as a valid theological position in the CofE, as well as the AC?

Posted by: fido on Saturday, 16 June 2007 at 7:51am BST

Lapin's comment is germane: this diocese has a hierarchy very supportive of women's ministry (new archdeacon is of the female persuasion), but we have slid alarmingly down the list. I wonder whether this is due to the restructuring of the diocese which means we have few new posts on offer (and very few first incumbencies) - it has pretty well much 'frozen' us, while other dioceses perhaps are recruiting.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Saturday, 16 June 2007 at 9:11am BST

Truro's rise is commendable - but it's mainly down to the numbers of non-stipendiary clergy. I make it 11 women with stipendiary incumbent status, no women on the cathedral chapter, no women archdeacons one woman rural dean. The vast majority of women clergy in Truro are NS curates. Is this pattern reflected nationally?

Posted by: JBE on Saturday, 16 June 2007 at 10:09am BST

Now what would be really interesting would be a 'league table' of dioceses based on the number of Conservative Evangelicals in senior positions - anything from Assistant Rural/Area Dean upwards.

Or maybe not. After all, when it came to bishops you'd have:

Chichester 1st, 1

Oxford, St.Albans, Ely, Worcester, Leicester, Southwark, Ripon, Durham, Liverpool, Hereford, Peterborough, Salisbury, Wakefield, Truro, Sheffield, Southwell, Norwich, Derby, St.Edms & Ipswich, Chelmsford, Lincoln, Manchester, Gloucester, Bath & Wells, Canterbury, York, London, Newcastle, Coventry, Guildford, Bradford, Lichfield, Chester, Birmingham, Rochester, Carlisle, Exeter, Bristol, Portsmouth, Winchester, Sodor and Man, Blackburn 2nd equal, 0.

So actually quite boring, really.

Posted by: John Richardson on Saturday, 16 June 2007 at 3:47pm BST

Chichester actually has a woman Rural Dean now (though Jo Gavigan, one of our permanent deacons, was not appointed until 2005, so possibly not showing in those figures). There are actually a growing number of women, many admittedly NSM; but I have been pleased to see a number moving (ie being appointed by our bishops) from NSM to stip, and some from assistant posts to incumbent level. There remains though quite a strong emphasis in this diocese on the permanent diaconate as the primary place for ordained women's ministry.

Posted by: Alastair Cutting on Saturday, 16 June 2007 at 4:30pm BST

John R: thank you for reminding me of those scourges of faithful believers, +Rochester, +Southwell, +Durham.......

Flawed methodology?

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Saturday, 16 June 2007 at 6:39pm BST

Apparently there's a difference between being conservative and evangelical and being Conservative Evangelical.

Blessed if I understand it though.

Posted by: JBE on Saturday, 16 June 2007 at 8:00pm BST

Given that up to 30% of the CofE opposes the ordination of women these figures are not too bad. The methodology should take this into account. The 25% average score thus becomes something like 36% which is not bad. Certainly higher than senior appointments of conservative evos or catholic opponents.

Posted by: Neil on Sunday, 17 June 2007 at 12:54am BST

fido: its the practicality of the situation, particularly when the church is relying so much more on NSM's. If the CofE accepts women priests, then their presence can't be directed by geography.

That's why I think that it would be difficult to have an anti-WO bishop outside the flying bishops, without leading to a very unfair situation.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 17 June 2007 at 3:11am BST

The situation to which you refer above is in fact the case today.
There are several diocesan bishops, and several more suffragan bishops in the CofE, apart from the PEVs, who refuse to ordain women as priests. Some of those who take that stance do nevertheless license women priests themselves, rather than having the archbishop of the province do so for them.

Do please explain how you arrive at the "up to 30%" figure, but also what is the meaning of "up to X%" anyway?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 June 2007 at 8:50am BST

Simon - the figure was around 1/3 at the time of the original vote. Numbers must have declined since then and will be difficult to estimate - but should include those who though not part of 'resolution parishes' nevertheless in conscience are still part of that constituency. The point remains that the GRAS figure at 25% needs to be weighted accordingly. And, that compared to other constituencies, they do quite well.

Posted by: Neil on Sunday, 17 June 2007 at 9:35am BST

Sorry, I really am having difficulty in understanding what you are saying.
What figure is it that was around one-third at the time of the 1992 vote? Is this assertion based simply on the GS voting figures in 1992, or is it something more widely based?
And if "it" is now "up to 30%" are you asserting that "it" (whatever it is) has fallen by as little as 3 percentage points i.e. from 3% to 30% in nearly 15 years?
I really do not believe that anything close to 30% of the active members of the Church of England are today opposed to women as priests therein.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 June 2007 at 12:19pm BST

On the specific question of diocesan bishops (total 44) who do not, on principle, ordain women as priests, I can list four: London, Chichester, Blackburn, Europe. That's 9% I think. I suspect this figure is much closer to the proportion of active CofE members who are opposed than the 30% posited by Neil.

Corrections very welcome. By the way, in all those dioceses women do function as priests, as the table shows. (Europe is not included in the table: I have written to GRAS about this omission.)

And I note with interest that both London and York dioceses (York until recently had an archbishop who did not ordain women as priests) have figures that are fairly close to, albeit below, the national average.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 June 2007 at 12:33pm BST

Five years ago, one of the four bishops who Simon lists as refusing on principle to ordain women, reportedly gave assurances that if advanced to Canterbury in succession to George Carey, he would commence performing female ordinations. That, absent Canterbury, he has not done so, seems to be an interesting comment on episcopal flexibility.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Sunday, 17 June 2007 at 3:54pm BST

Simon - your impression clearly differs from mine re proportions. Any accurate figures would need to include a) those lay people 'in favour' who find themselves marooned in traditional parishes and b) those 'opposed' who put up with the status quo in the more progressive places. In addition, of course, to the officially recognised 'resolution parishes'. I doubt anybody would fund such a study - but the point stands that the 25% GRAS figure needs to be weighted upwards by whatever percentage is correct.

Posted by: Neil on Sunday, 17 June 2007 at 5:39pm BST

+Londin doesn't normally ordain any priests, male or female. So it's hardly realistic to count him in the figures. Of the five bishops in the Diocese of London who do carry out ordinations of priests, three ordain women and two do not.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Sunday, 17 June 2007 at 10:58pm BST

One of the bishops in the diocese of London who does NOT ordain women is the Bishop of Edmonton.

There are two bishoprics (though not two dioceses) whose names are duplicated in the Communion. There are two dioceses of (and hence two bishops of) Rochester - one in England and one in the US. And there are two bishops of Edmonton - this suffragan to London in England and a diocesan bishop in Canada.

Ironically, while the Bishop of Edmonton (CofE) does not ordain women, the Bishop of Edmonton (ACC) is a woman - the Rt. Rev'd Victoria Matthews.

This amusing coincidence may cease to exist this week if (as many think likely) Bishop Matthews is elected Primate of All Canada. The Canadian Primate has no diocesan see, and hence the successful candidate will have to resign their see.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Monday, 18 June 2007 at 3:19am BST

Malcolm - There are also two dioceses of Newcastle, one in England and one in Australia.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Monday, 18 June 2007 at 9:41am BST

It may be worth pointing out that the Bishop of London ordains no priests,female or male. I think this is deliberate and is aconsequence of the London Plan instituted by his predecessor.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 18 June 2007 at 1:56pm BST

I have raised my concerns with the methodology of this reasearch with GRAS directly. It is incorrect for the Press release to say that "The Furlong Table measures the numbers of women clergy deployed..." In fact it only measures full time stipendiary posts and "senior appointments". I find it very dissappointing that the contribution of women in SSM and part time posts is in no way measured. Furthermore once again we adopt a male hierarchical model of measuring seniority. I am married to a clergywoman with PTO raising a young family, once again her contribution to the life of the church goes unrecorded.

Posted by: Lee Francis-Dehqani on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 at 3:10pm BST

I go to a church, the vicar is against female ordination. Any recommendation/reference to study theology has to come from him. The statistics are little alarming.
If you are with a church with people you have grown to like, medium sized congregation and you find you have peers of your own age, it is difficult to change. Growth is at the expense of Christianity. A lot of people are not happy, feel neglected. I feel trapped, really want to have an important role in the community but feel I do not count a jot.

Posted by: Anon on Tuesday, 8 January 2008 at 12:34pm GMT
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