Thinking Anglicans

Attendance at the House of Bishops by women

In 2013 the House of Bishops decided to give eight senior women clergy elected regionally (“regional representatives) the right to attend their meetings. The intention at the time was that this arrangement would last until there were six female members of the House.

The House of Bishops has now decided “to give six female Suffragan Bishops rights of attendance at the House, in addition to the female members of the House, replacing the arrangements for the Regional Representatives.” These new arrangements will come into effect from 1st December 2016. [See paragraph 14 of GS Misc 1144.]

The membership of the House of Bishops is

  • all 42 diocesan bishops of the Church of England;
  • the Bishop of Dover;
  • the Bishop to the Forces; and
  • seven suffragan bishops elected from among the total number of suffragan bishops, (four from the Province of Canterbury, and three from the Province of York).

At present there are two female diocesans (Gloucester and Newcastle), and one of the elected suffragans (Stockport) is a woman. There are a further seven female suffragans.

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Father Ron Smith
7 years ago

Quite an amazing breakthrough for women in the hitherto traditionally male-only House of bishops. The fact that the additional women do not have to be diocesan bishops is a sign of encouragement to those of us who believe – like Pope Francis – that women have something special to give to the leadership of the Church.

Whether this will encourage our Roman confreres to consider moving forward with the possibility of ordaining women as deacons in their Church, though, remains to be seen. Good on you, Church of England!

Peter S
Peter S
7 years ago

I echo Father Ron’s comments, congratulations to the C of E. The appointment of 10 women as bishops in just 18 months is beyond anyone’s expectations, and a recognition of the leadership and dedication of thousands of women to gospel ministry in difficult and constrained circumstances over the last few decades.

It will be interesting to see when it is decided that the extra female episcopal representation is no longer required; when do female bishops become “normal” in the life of the church?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x