Comments: Third woman bishop in New Zealand

Very good news. And psychologically, it feels as if cracks in the glass ceiling are beginning to appear. I hope the CofE at large is watching what NZ is just getting on and doing.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 11:25am BST

What a good choice - of a Woman - to become the next Bishop of Waikato, in ACANZP. In her new role, Dr. Helen-Ann Hartley will become a diocesan partner with the Bishop of Taranaki-in-Waikato, The Rt.Revd. Philip Richardson, who recently replaced the former Paheha Archbishop of New Zealand, The Rt. Revd. David Moxon, now the Anglican Representative to The Holy See in Rome.

Who would have thought that the cow-cockie rural township of Waikato would ever produce such a trio of high-flyers within the New Zealand Province? And all in such a short space of time!

However, as the third Woman to become a Bishop in ACANZP; Bishop-elect Helen-Ann brings a provenance of scholarship from several parts of the world as her dowry to the local Anglican community. One only needs to click on to the Bishop of Taranaki's Letter to understand how welcomed she is to the Diocese of Waikato, and to the New Zealand Church as she takes up this post.

I'm sure her husband Myles will also be very much welcomed into the Church Music scene in Hamilton.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 12:44pm BST

"it feels as if cracks in the glass ceiling are beginning to appear"

Canada, the US, NZ, and Australia have been consecrating bishops for a couple of decades and now South Africa is in.

17 women have been consecrated in the US, 7 in Canada... Dr. Hartley, who sounds fantastic, will be the 3rd in NZ.

The cracks have been there for well over a decade, or two, but they are definitely expanding. As for us women who grew up with WB, not just WO, it is almost impossible to understand the fuss, or continued discrimination. Watching the arguments against is a real time machine experience. I'm grateful for it, it helps me appreciate the struggles for liberation on many fronts, especially the continuing struggles. Not just LGBT. The struggle to truly address poverty and exploitation is going to be bigger than any we've seen for equality based on race, gender, and sexual orientation.

These "battles" are the warm up. And perhaps when much is done on this front, we'll understand a way to extend compassion to the most impoverished and exploited.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 3:35pm BST

Personally, as a female priest I am more depressed than thrilled - how many gifted women called by God to episcopal ministry will the Church of England have to lose before their ministry is accepted and celebrated within the Church of England. Great news for New Zealand, Bad News for the Church of England. We have a long list of Dioceses who need to appoint either Diocesan or Suffragen Bishops and thanks to General Synod, none of our currently ordained women in senior positions can even be considered.

Tell me again why it is good news that women WE could have had as Bishops have to go overseas to be obedient to God's call on their lives? It seems to me to be either tragedy or farce.

Posted by Lindsay Southern at Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 5:00pm BST

Just to be clear, isn’t one of the 7 in Canada also one of the three in NZ? The bishop of Christchurch in NZ, the Rt. Revd Victoria Mathews, was originally a suffragan bishop in Toronto and later the diocesan in Edmonton, both in Canada. So ACoC consecrated her a bishop and NZ has translated her to the ACANZ&P.

Posted by Bro David at Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 7:08pm BST

As another Pom now ministering in ACANZP I would testify how refreshing and right it feels to elect your Bishop, rather than wait anxiously for an announcement from Number 10. The election of + Justin as the 11th Bishop of Wellington last year was a clear move of the Spirit. Prayers for Helen-Ann in her calling to Waikato.

Posted by SimonW at Thursday, 5 September 2013 at 7:54pm BST

Yes, Brother David, Bishop Victoria Matthews does now adorn the ACANZP Bench of Bishops - after an illustrious career as Bishop of Toronto in the Anglican Church of Canada. BUT, does she have it easy? Not too easy. Despite her sterling episcopal activity in the Christchuirch, N.Z. Diocese, post-earthquakes, there are those in our diocese - including serving clergy - who would rather she were not a woman! I guess prejudice dies hard!

However, +Victoria is carrying out her divinely-appointed task with grace and all due diligence - thus proving the efficacy of Women as Leaders in our Church. We are thankful for the ministry of Women in our little corner of the South Pacific.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 1:48am BST

"I would testify how refreshing and right it feels to elect your Bishop, rather than wait anxiously for an announcement from Number 10. "

"Tell me again why it is good news that women WE could have had as Bishops have to go overseas to be obedient to God's call on their lives?"

These 2 statements are related, of course. CoE is ridiculously top down. To those of us who call our own rectors and elect our own bishops, the CNC just looks like another private club selecting leadership for their club. The election process, which involves a lot of listening and discernment amongst a broad range of people, is spirit filled. The top down, CNC situation, is inherently patronizing. The few can't speak for the many, no matter how well intentioned they may be.

I feel your pain, Lindsay.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 3:14am BST

Ironically election of bishops makes it harder for women.

Look at NZ, well over a third of the clergy are women and yet it has taken 36 years to get two consecrated.

Even in the US it has been difficult to get women elected bishops.

The Church of Ireland approved women bishops in 1990 and has still elected no woman bishop.

That is why when it happens in England, there will be more women bishops and they will come via the assistant bishop avenue.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 8:03am BST

Cynthia Thank you for sharing the pain. For myself over here I am drawn to a more transparent appointment process.
But when you compare the CofE with 'those of us who call our own rectors and elect our own bishops' it does sound as potentially closed, and excluding as the system you roundly dismiss over here (and caricature actually). Why should your system be any more 'spirit filled' than the CofE's actually? I recall talking to candidate for episcopal election in the States a few years back. She said it was plain from early in the proceedings that the appointment had already been stitched up from the start. I would prefer a more open process here but I do not doubt the honourable intention or spiritual life of those managing the present system here.

For what it is worth I am drawn to the Coptic system for appointing their Pope. After all the discernment, prayer, politics, public lobbying etc three names are put in a bowl. A little boy is blindfolded and blessed and pulls one name out. There is a profound theology of the Spirit at work in that drama that combines both the public and hidden.

Posted by David at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 8:44am BST

Clearly a very gifted candidate. But it is worth pointing out that such an appointment would not be likely within the CofE after only 8 years as a priest. The usual trajectory for equally gifted men would be to gain rather more experience...then perhaps become an Archdeacon...then an assistant Bishop...and then a Diocesan. However, with the meteoric promotion of ++Justin Welby, this might well change in the future.

Posted by Neil at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 8:48am BST

Thank you Cynthia, sadly all too true!

Posted by ExRevd at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 9:29am BST

Too young.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 12:43pm BST

David, the reason I say that the elections are more spirit filled than the 18 or so members of CNC is because of the many and diverse voices and stories that come into play. Elections aren't perfect, Robert has rightly pointed out that despite TEC elections, things aren't 50-50 at this point. And yet, through representative processes, there has been a lot of listening to the stories of women, of LGBT persons, of Native Americans (the were treated atrociously), and the hopes and aspirations of many to live into the Gospel in TEC, in our dioceses, and in our parishes. The CNC process seems very closed by comparison.

But for me, the part of the CNC that is caricature is when they select an ABC, ostensibly for the whole Anglican Communion, with only one "international" representative, which was Wales. From my perspective, 18 members of the CNC is rather narrow for a diocesan bishop, for an ABC it's just crazy, unless everyone accepts the symbolic nature of the ABC. Rowan didn't, he actually tried to exercise power. Enter the hurt and the quite reasonable examination of the process that brought this about.

I like the Coptic version too! Although I think they should alternate girl/boy.

When it comes to bishops, I like to think about doctors. Doctors who listen are the best doctors, female doctors listen better than male doctors, etc. But I had to have a surgery this year and I had to have a male surgeon. This doctor had a button that said "Listen!" and he did, and my outcome was quite happy. This knowledge of the role of listening is changing the field of medicine for the better (in that regard), including the men. There are benefits to be reaped beyond those of simple parity.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 4:25pm BST

"That is why when it happens in England, there will be more women bishops..."

And when it happens in the Vatican, there will be *far more* women bishops, eh RIW?

;-p

To critics of the episcopal electoral process, I would simply cite Sir Winston re democracy. Nuff said. God bless Bishop-Elect Hartley. ["Too young", Martin? See re David, Samuel . . . Jesus-Teaching-in-the-Temple. Age ain't nuthin' but a number.]

Posted by JCF at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 7:38pm BST

I confess to being slightly bemused by Lindsay Southern's comment. Presumably she's not meaning to imply that God's call on Dr Hartley's life isn't to exercise episcopal ministry in New Zealand?

Posted by Richard at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 8:13pm BST

The Encyclopedia Britannica (I think) was reputed to have an index entry for Wales: "See England". This is no longer the case Cynthia. The Church in Wales is as independent of the Church of England as TEC, so there is no need for inverted commas round the word "international". (Though I agree with your basic point!)

Posted by Helen at Friday, 6 September 2013 at 9:53pm BST

Might I suggest there is already a hierarchy of women waiting to be made bishops in the Church of England? It may be based on talent, or these people hanging around in jobs pressed against the ceiling, but the names are known (including of the New Zealand transfer) and the point I am making is that when these figures are appointed they will add to the hierarchy rather than any sense of undermining its culture. The senior female figures will all be promoted rapidly and the club will have extended itself but maintained itself.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 7 September 2013 at 1:49am BST

Helen, whether the Church of Wales is independent or not, there's no perception to the outside world that Wales represents diversity.

It is hard to remove the quotes around "international" when we're talking about a country that was subject to the equal marriage bill. Going to Wales from England doesn't have the feel of crossing an international border. The biggest deal is the Welsh supertitles at the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff. But all those wwww's llll's and yyyy's in Verdi don't convince me that Wales adequately represents the America's, Asian, Africa, etc.... (The Rigoletto was set in Washington DC, and they didn't get it right, but it was truly a fine performance anyway).

I know I'm not fully getting the nuances of the countries within Great Britain. Sorry about that. At least I have the opera houses down.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 7 September 2013 at 4:29am BST

Thank you very much for giving the link to the New Yorker article by Jane Kramer..I hope people will read it...well informed and full of interesting things. Though I felt ( it was written in 2010)in only 3 yrs things seem and feel "a bit different"

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 7 September 2013 at 9:33am BST

As someone who is very fond of Wales, it very much feels like a different country!

Posted by Richard at Saturday, 7 September 2013 at 10:11am BST

Cynthia,

Wales is a land of 8,000 square miles and the Welsh are the remnant of the Romano-Britons who fled westwards from eastern Britain, when the pagan Anglo-Saxons invaded in the fifth century.

Our language is distinct and German is closer to English than Welsh.In 1535 we were forcibly united to England but since 1997 we have had our own national assembly, and we are independent as regards education, health and agricultural .
matters.Labour still rule in Cardiff.

The four Church of England dioceses were disestablished and became the Church in Wales in 1920. However the Welsh largely deserted Anglicanism in the nineteenth century.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Saturday, 7 September 2013 at 10:42pm BST

Cynthia - if the Primates of the Communion did not think that Dr Morgan would represent their views adequately at the CNC, one presumes that they would not have elected him...

Posted by tommiaquinas at Saturday, 7 September 2013 at 11:56pm BST

Thanks, Robert. Even with the diversity, much more than I knew, it still seems like one international representative on the CNC to select an ABC isn't very much. It still seems quite narrow and symbolic, rather than really representative. And that's fine, as long as the ABC doesn't try to exercise real power in the international realm.

I would also suggest that deeper representation would likely help with the issues of WB's and LGBT's.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 8 September 2013 at 6:00am BST

The CNC were electing a person whose primary role is to be Primate of the C of E. He has no jurisdiction over the Anglican Communion and as we have seen the symbolic "power" he has within it doesnt seem to work very well. The AC is an ecclesiological oddity after all, held together by common loyalties and creaking organisational structures, neither a federation nor a confessional family..shaped largely by histoical circumstance. The Lambeth Conference of 1948 assumed its vocation was to disappear.
If that had happened as they imagined ( with provinces entering with ecumenical partners into United Churches on the South India or similar model) held together in a "Wider Episcopal Fellowship" ( does anyone remember that?) then things might look rather different 70 yrs on. Yet paradoxically from the mid 1950s the Anglican world set upon a different course...I have often wondered why .TheSecond Vatican Council had something to do with it Im sure..hopes of a "world wide" communion converging with the great Latin Church of the West ( after all before that it was always thought any kind of reunion would come with the Orthodox...and with the Romanians it might have come off...)ARCIC was created, communion wide...The increasing use of the word Anglican within the C of E is itself rather interesting...what began as Conversations between the Church of England and the Methodist Church in the early sixties became Anglican/Methodist Reunion...

All a bit off topic perhaps...but the historical perspective is always helpful if only, as Henry Chadwick used to say, in knowing however bad things are now, there was always a time in Christian history when they were worse ( pace Rowan and the 4th c! in the Kramer article above)

Posted by Perry Butler at Sunday, 8 September 2013 at 9:16am BST

Cynthia, your observation about "one international representative ... to select an ABC" not being very much *could* be turned about.

Ask yourself if you would be content to have "outsiders" involved in the selection of your diocesan bishop. When the CNC meets to determine whom it should recommend to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, it is selecting the next diocesan bishop for the diocese of Canterbury. It has to bear in its collective mind that the individual selected will also be the Primate and Metropolitan of the southern province of the Church of England and /primus inter pares/ of the bishops of the Anglican Communion BUT its primary responsibility is to select the right person for Canterbury diocese.

The other roles are good reasons to have representation from the northern province and from the wider communion but the needs of the diocese must always be paramount.

None of the above, of course, is meant to pass any comment on how successive holders of the three-fold office have interpreted and carried out their roles nor on how other people have understood their attempts.

Posted by RPNewark at Sunday, 8 September 2013 at 1:13pm BST

Ron, Victoria was not the Bishop of Toronto, she was a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Toronto before being elected as Diocesan Bishop of Edmonton, where she served for ten years as our bishop.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Sunday, 8 September 2013 at 1:20pm BST

"to select an ABC" not being very much *could* be turned about."

Yes, of course. My point was that if the ABC was "answerable" to the 80 million in the Anglican Communion, as has been claimed by two recent ABC's, then the 80 million need true representation on the selection. But if the ABC is a diocesan who's spot is historic and symbolic, then the rest of the Communion shouldn't have much say, BUT then the ABC needs to realize that the international component of the role isn't actual power, except perhaps spiritual power to engage and persuade.

I have to think that excellent local work can radiate out. An example of compassion, working together on issues that concerned Jesus (the poor and outcasts), and truly proclaiming the Good News to all would be quite powerful. That would give an ABC the spiritual power to make a difference beyond.

The other point, about the selection of non ABC bishops, is that the process still gives the impression of being tightly controlled from outside, even with 6 representatives. That ratio leads me to think that there's not a strong enough incentive for the CoE hierarchy to listen to their members. The disconnect between the Lords Spiritual and their own members on equal marriage was huge. That patronizing "we know what's best for you" article on marriage clearly points to the Grand Canyon like gap.

Someone needs to saddle up some donkeys, trek to the other side and tell the Bishops that it's a brave new world where people think for themselves, this isn't the illiterate Middle Ages, and that requires some newish approaches. Alternatively, the CoE could work on more listening processes...

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 8 September 2013 at 3:36pm BST

"Ron, Victoria was not the Bishop of Toronto, she was a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Toronto before being elected as Diocesan Bishop of Edmonton, where she served for ten years as our bishop."
- Tim Chesterton -

Thanks, Tim. Of course, Bishop Victoria was indeed only a suffragan in Toronto, thence becoming the diocesan Bishop of Edmonton. Her episcopate has already lasted longer than the priesthood of our newest Bishop in Aotearoa/New Zealand. And we still can claim - before our 'Mother Church of England - complete freedom from misogyny in our Province. Here's hoping for further enlightenment in the C.of E. - enabling the ordination of Women as Bishops - without prejudice, let or hindrance.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 8 September 2013 at 11:41pm BST

'BUT its primary responsibility is to select the right person for Canterbury diocese.'

This is simply not the case.


We all know the role of Canterbury world-wide, and that another bishop is designated to take care of the diocese itself.

Dover if memory serves.

Posted by Rev'd Laurence Roberts at Monday, 9 September 2013 at 3:16pm BST

Lindsay, Helen-Ann came to New Zealand 2-3 years ago to be on staff of St Johns College. Seems to me it was OE, not a pitch for promotion. In that time her talents have clearly been recognised, and so it is that she is now a bishop. Since she can't "advance" from this position to return to the UK, that makes her a lifer in New Zealand I suppose. Who is accountable for this lamentable state of affairs in the home of the Anglican Church I wonder?

Posted by Ewen. at Saturday, 22 February 2014 at 10:52pm GMT
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