Transparency Statistics March 2020
Following the 2014 settlement on Women in the Episcopate, WATCH has been monitoring the outworking of the House of Bishop’s Declaration, including the Five Guiding Principles. We accept that the Declaration provides for parishes to make arrangements, through a PCC resolution, limiting the role of ordained women in the life of their church. WATCH has a concern about lack of transparency from parishes about the passing of these resolutions and the limits on ordained women’s ministry in a given church.
The 2014 settlement allowing women to become bishops provided for those parishes not wishing to have women as bishops, priests or in other leadership roles to pass PCC resolutions and send letters of request to their diocesan bishops asking for provisions to be made for them to exclude women accordingly. In churches where resolutions have been passed and letters of request sent, women can be excluded from a wide range of leadership opportunities and roles. We are concerned that women in churches where they do not see women preaching, presiding or holding leadership positions are less likely to recognise their own calling. Where women do have a sense of calling this is often not encouraged or nurtured.
New research has been conducted this spring, analysing the transparency of conservative evangelical churches on their position on women’s ministry. The research shows that around 90% of conservative evangelical resolution churches still have no statement on their website about their policy and practices regarding women in ministry and leadership.
It is now well over a year since this concern was first raised. In January 2019 the Bishop of Maidstone acknowledged that the call for transparency should be taken seriously. He suggested that parishes put a statement on their websites. This does not appear to be happening. Where it does happen it is often not clear exactly what this means. It should be possible for individuals looking for a church to find out easily whether this is a church that welcomes the ministry of all, regardless of gender, in all roles. Where the church holds a particular theological position limiting the roles women can fill, which is recognised under the House of Bishops Declaration, that should be clearly explained.
A summary of the Transparency Statistics for Male Headship church websites at 2 March 2020 is HERE (click on the word ‘here’).