Voting for an Inclusive Synod

The General Synod election process was to have taken place last year [2020], but due to the pandemic General Synod’s last meeting of the current term was postponed to July 2021. The elections to a new Synod were therefore postponed to September 2021, and the Inclusive Election Campaign that began in 2019 had to be paused for a few months.

However, with just over six months to go WATCH, along with other inclusive groups, is once again encouraging and supporting inclusive members of the Church of England to engage with the elections.

If we want to see a General Synod membership supportive of full equality in the Church of England, we need people willing to stand for election later this year.

A new website brings together information about the elections into one space, Please take a look at the website, find out what is involved, and think about whether you or someone you know might consider standing for election. The website will be running until the end of the elections in October and will be updated with extra information as the campaign progresses.

General Synod Elections

The General Synod elections for 2020 have been deferred by 12 months, meaning voting will now be in September 2021. We are continuing to work with Inclusive Church and other to organise for these elections, with Nic Tall acting as the coordinator.

Nic would like to remind everyone that Annual Parochial Church Meetings in the C of E were extended so they could take place up until 31st October. If your parish is yet to hold this meeting, this year you will be electing Deanery Synod members, and these members will be able to vote in September 2021. General Synod elections can be extremely close, so please ensure that you take up all of your allocated Deanery places, that your members understand their responsibility to vote and to support inclusive candidates. When voting opens in 2021 we will be circulating a list of candidates who have signed up to an inclusive statement to help inform voters.

If you would like to know more about the elections or are interested in standing for General Synod next year, please get in touch with Nic ([email protected]).

The Consecration of the Bishops of Horsham and Lewes

WATCH is deeply saddened by the announcement that the two new Bishops in Chichester diocese, the Bishops of Horsham and Lewes, will not be consecrated together in one service by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Had there been a joint consecration, even with some special arrangements, there would have been a clear witness to the stated aim of the fullest possible communion which is central to  mutual flourishing in the Five Guiding Principles.

It is still not clear whether the Archbishop of Canterbury will consecrate Ruth Bushyager as the Bishop of Horsham. For him not to consecrate any of these new bishops in his province has serious ecclesiological implications.

We are told by Forward in Faith that these special arrangements have been made so that The Revd Prebendary William Hazelwood can ‘experience the sacramental assurance and the joy of full communion with the bishops who ordain them.’ Apparently this rules out the Archbishop of Canterbury. The new Bishop of Lewes will not be in full communion with his Archbishop because he has ordained women as priests and bishops. This looks like a theology of taint. Although we are repeatedly told that Forward in Faith does not adhere to a theology of taint, this is exactly what the rejection of consecration by the Archbishop or any other (male) bishop who has ordained women looks like. It is, we are told a theology of impaired communion and any Bishop or Archbishop can restore the communion with society priests and bishops by repenting of their support of women’s ministry. However this arrangement  is defined, it sustains an argument that simply to lay hands on a woman to ordain her puts you outside the sacramental assurance that Prebendary William chooses to experience.

Yet again women are meant to accept this public statement about the Church of England’s ambiguous attitude to their ministry. The first and second guiding principles make it clear that the Church is non-discriminatory in terms of gender and that it has made up its mind about the full acceptance of the sacramental ministry of women. Once again, it would seem that even our Archbishops are tainted through their affirmation of women’s ministry. No wonder we are struggling to attract younger women into ordained ministry. No wonder so many women within the church describe the Five Guiding Principles and the term mutual flourishing as an open wound.

Of course, we pray that  The Rev Ruth Bushyagar and Prebendary William Hazelwood will have fruitful ministries in the diocese of Chichester and wish them both joy in their new roles. Yet, we find it tragic for them and the Church of England that even in their consecration, mutual avoidance has won out over mutual flourishing.


Revd Canon Dr Emma Percy

Chair of WATCH

Mothering Sunday: some new gender inclusive resources

New on our Resources section: a variety of gender inclusive pieces created for Mothering Sunday by those who attended a WATCH Liturgy Day last year. There are prayers, drama sketches, intercessions, collects, confessions and outlines for eucharistic services. Many of these are appropriate for other events as well. NB For Anglicans: Wherever in Common Worship it says ‘or other suitable words’ (and it says that a lot) you may substitute pieces such as these.

Go to our Resources Section and select Prayer and Liturgy.

WATCH needs….a Secretary, Vice Chairs, Committee members

Are you passionate about gender justice in the CofE? Would you like to work on that with other like-minded people? The WATCH National Committee is a voluntary group of women and men, lay and ordained, who support each other in pursuit of gender justice locally and nationally. At our AGM on 14th November we will appoint/elect:


arranges Committee meetings, takes Minutes, works with the Chair on Committee admin, member of the Exec.

Vice Chairs

(elected at the AGM for 2 or 3 years): head up an area of WATCH’s work, members of the Exec, support the Chair

Committee members

(elected at the AGM): contribute to at least one area of WATCH’s work, attend the 4 Committee meetings per year. 

That’s the bare bones.
For more details contact Hilary, the Chair, at [email protected].

Together, we can change the CofE…..

Female clergy: where were they in 2012?

In early 2014 a report was produced for NADAWM (The National Association of Diocesan Advisers in Women’s Ministry) by Ultan Russell of the Church & Society Department of the Liverpool Diocese. The report included a Statistical Analysis of Women Clergy in the Church of England using data made available by the Archbishops’ Council and produced by Dr Chris Wooff. This analysis, together with an explanatory overview, is being circulated to Bishops with the request that it is passed on to Diocesan Secretaries. It is hoped that the rigorous and comprehensive data offered here will be helpful in informing future strategy and policies in relation to the deployment of female clergy in individual dioceses.

Latest Chair’s blog – Women able to be bishops – tick. What next?

By WATCH Chair Hilary Cotton

On 14th July 2014 a small piece of the world changed. At last, after nearly a century of active campaigning, the Church of England made it possible for women to be appointed as bishops. Hallelujah.

We are in new territory here – territory that is familiar to wider society, but also that is fundamentally different. There is still plenty in the culture of both Church and society that reeks of sexism and paternalism, and those deep-rooted sins need to be brought to awareness and eradicated. But the foundation of that culture has shifted. At a deep spiritual level women are no longer to be regarded as also-rans to men, whose experience is lesser, or weaker, or dependent on men.

Women need no longer apologise for being who they are, at any level of themselves whatsoever.

Living this out is going to be difficult. The settlement agreed by the Church of England may look very similar to the one agreed in 1993: there is still an opt-out for parishes from having women in sacramental authority; and those who dissent from the agreed Church of England position will still be able to be ordained and appointed to any office.

But the question-mark over women’s ordained ministry within the Church of England has at last been removed: the 5 principles of the House of Bishops’ Declaration affirm this.

So if you know a female curate, vicar, chaplain, archdeacon, canon, dean, associate minister or theologian, please send her a note asking her to be even more fully herself than she has been so far, so that God may use her gifts even more fully than she has done already.

What next? I have been reading ‘She changes everything’ by Lucy Reid, and it is reminding me that the quest for the Divine continues throughout eternity, and we never get more than a little closer in our own lifetime. We have had glimpses of the female Divine in the many women who have been ordained as priests in the Church of England. There is much still to explore and re-explore. Feminist theology (shamefully considered as passé in many theological colleges) is a must for the future of the church; the place of lay women (and men) needs to be restored in a church that has become more and more focused on clergy as authority; and our language in worship about God needs expanding from the over-dominant ‘Father, King, Lord, Almighty’.

If you think there is more still to do to make the Church fully inclusive of women and their experience and gifts, please do let us know. Email [email protected] to send your thoughts, ideas and support.

The way ahead is full of adventures, and if we dance with the Spirit she will surely give us her blessing. Please join us.

Vacancy for Researcher – Ministry Projects at Church House

The above post is being advertised on the Church of England website- click here. The closing date for applications is 27th June 2014.

The main responsibilities in this role are:
  1. To assist the Research Programme Manager, in collaboration with key stakeholders, with the design and development of the programme of research.
  2. To lead on discrete projects, ensuring the timely collection and analysis of data, including: literature reviews, stakeholder surveys, qualitative interviews and drafting reports.
  3. To manage the meetings of Project Steering Groups, including drafting and circulating papers.
  4. Support the project management of the programme of research
  5. Lead on discrete research projects
  6. Support the Ministry Team’s engagement with the internal boards and committees, including the Ministry Council and Project Steering Groups
  7. Involvement in other aspects of the Ministry Development Team’s work

Bishop Pat Storey preaches at Manchester’s anniversary celebrations

The Most Revd Pat Storey, the first female Anglican bishop in the UK and Ireland, was the guest preacher at a special service at Manchester Cathedral to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Speaking at the event, Bishop Pat said, “It is such a privilege to be invited to speak at such an auspicious occasion as this. It is amazing how, twenty years later, we have taken so much for granted, and it is good on occasion to look back and see how far we have come.”

For the full story please click here.

What a day, what a celebration!

The National Celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of women’s ordination to the priesthood was a day filled with laughter, friendship, solidarity and warmth. Literally warmth as the sun was shining gloriously. It was a day for prayer, for reflection and for song. It was a day for the “women of ‘94”, the first to be ordained, it was a day for those who supported them and those who followed and it was a day for those whose church has changed so much for the better because of those ordinations.

The day began with a picnic lunch in Dean’s Yard at Westminster Abbey. There was a sea of happy faces, many old friendships rekindled and new ones formed. There was food, there were a few bottles of champagne, well, it was a celebration after all! There were some wonderful speeches including one by Canon Jane Hedges who included a reference from the message of congratulations from ++Desmond Tutu and we all echoed his resounding “yippee!” We also all shouted three cheers to the General Synod of 1992 which voted to enable women to be ordained.

Then we began the procession from the Abbey to St Pauls. The route took us through Parliament Square and up alongside the Thames. The numbers of us on the walk did make it feel like the procession spanned miles. Certainly from my viewpoint , about halfway down the procession, by Embankment Station, I couldn’t see where we began or ended. The sun was shining brightly and we had so many shouts of support from passing traffic and people watching us.

On arrival at St Pauls there was a band playing and the “women of 94” amassed on the steps of St Pauls. It was simply a breathtaking sight and the atmosphere there was one of huge joy. People who had tickets for the service gradually made their way in to the Cathedral and others made their way to Paternoster Square where a special screen had been erected to relay the service.

One of the most moving moments of the day came when the first women to be ordained were to process up the aisle. There were many hundreds and the procession took some time. But from the moment they began processing up, the congregation stood and gave them a standing ovation until the last had taken their seats. It was hugely powerful especially as some of the women are now quite frail.

The service was presided over by Canon Philippa Boardman with Archbishop Justin Welby as her deacon. The hymns were rousing, the testimonies given by June Osborne and Kate Boardman were powerful and inspiring and the address by ABC Justin encompassed the feelings of many.

All in all it was a day to truly celebrate and it gave so much hope for the future of the Church, especially this year when we hope even more progress might be made.