Anglican Primates Meeting: Where are the women?

When the leaders of the Anglican Churches meet next week in Canterbury there will be no women amongst them. The stark reality for that meeting, where crucial decisions are on the table about the future of the Anglican Communion worldwide, is that men will make those decisions.

There are no female archbishops in the Anglican Communion. Eight out of the thirty- eight Provinces have female and male bishops, but there has only been one female Provincial head - in the US - and she retired last November after nine years of being the sole woman amongst the Primates.

Why does this matter? Because most Anglicans across the globe are women, so their voices should be heard when there are high-level meetings making far-reaching decisions. And because women may have something helpful to say. For instance, when there were similar tensions in the Anglican Communion in 2007, representative

Anglican women issued a statement including this commitment:

"Given the global tensions so evident in our Church today, we do not accept that there is any one issue of difference or contention which can, or indeed would ever cause us to break our unity as represented by our common baptism. Neither would we ever consider severing the deep abiding bonds of affection which characterize our relationships as Anglican women.”

See full statement here and below.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH, said

“This is billed as a really tough meeting, and it is likely to be made tougher by not having women there as equal participants. This is not because women might do it better, or because the men might behave better with female colleagues around, but because diversity (in this case gender diversity) broadens perspectives and approaches. Women would bring different life experience and wisdom, and that might help to reveal blindspots and assumptions that could be worked through, allowing a better way forward to be created."

From the Anglican Women gathered at the 51st of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

3 March 2007

In the name of God, Saviour, Redeemer, and Giver of Life.

We, the women of the Anglican Communion gathered in New York as the Anglican Consultative Council delegation to the 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and as members of the International Anglicans Womens Network representing the diversity of women drawn from across the world wide Anglican Communion, wish to reiterate our previously stated unequivocal commitment to remaining always in “communion” with and for one another.

We remain resolute in our solidarity with one another in our commitment, above all else, to pursue and fulfill God’s mission in all we say and do.

Given the global tensions so evident in our Church today, we do not accept that there is any one issue of difference or contention which can, or indeed would ever cause us to break our unity as represented by our common baptism. Neither would we ever consider severing the deep abiding bonds of affection which characterize our relationships as Anglican women.

We have been challenged in our time together be the desperately urgent issues of life and death faced by countless numbers of women and children in our communities. As a diverse delegation, we prayerfully reflected on these needs.

We thus reaffirm the conclusion of the statement presented by our delegation to this year’s session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women:

This sisterhood of suffering is at the heart of our theology and our commitment to transforming the whole world through peace with justice. Rebuilding and reconciling the world is central to our faith.

Amen

For further details and photographs:
www.womenandthechurch.org.
www.facebook.com/WomenandtheChurch
Twitter. @WATCH_ACT
Contact
Jody Stowell - Media Officer WATCH
0208 8611710
07940 432410

Hilary Cotton – Chair WATCH
01483 856827
07793 817058

WATCH encouraged by Diocesan Synod support for new women bishops legislation

Over the weekend five more diocesan synods met and voted, overwhelmingly in favour, on the new women bishops legislation. 25 dioceses have now voted and agreed on the legislation meaning it can now be returned back to General Synod in July 2014 for final approval.

Adding all the votes together for the 25 dioceses which have now voted gives a 94% majority, compared with a 77% majority from the votes of all 44 dioceses for the previous legislation in 2011.

Hilary Cotton, chair of WATCH said, "We are hugely encouraged by the voting so far. In almost all the dioceses a mere handful of laypeople have voted against the legislation. With this extraordinarily high level of support, I cannot see any rationale that General Synod members might use to explain a second defeat in July. "

For further information please email Hilary Cotton at chair@womenandthechurch.org

Westminster Hall Debate: Women’s Contribution to the Ordained Ministry (Church of England), Thursday 20 March 2014

“I hope our debate has sent a message to the 4,200 ordained women that we greatly value what they do. The Church of England needs to embrace the gifts that men and women bring”,Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden.
WATCH congratulates Caroline Spelman MP and other Members of Parliament for taking part in the Westminster Hall debate on the role of ordained women in the Church of England over the past 20 years. Ordained women across the country will be affirmed to hear the many appreciative comments made on their contribution within Church and Society that has ensured that the priestly role has become “Transformational”. We hope all ordained women will welcome the recognition given in the debate that their work and ministry now seen as, “a valued, valuable and wonderful part of church life”. WATCH also concurs with the comment that much still needs to be done to ensure that the glass ceiling does not remain in place.
In the debate hope was expressed that the proposed legislation coming before the General Synod in July will go through. We welcome the assurance given by the Second Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, that all efforts will be made for the Measure to be fully properly considered, approved and passed into law well before Christmas. Sir Tony also offered the hope that we will see the first women bishops consecrated shortly thereafter.
We appreciated his reading from the New Testament showing the loyalty of the women who stood witness to Christ’s crucifixion, and how Mary Magdalene was the one sent to the disciples to tell of his resurrection. In this context, we welcome and fully endorse his comment that the last 20 years have demonstrated that women priests are well able to proclaim the risen Christ throughout the land. By their ministry they have made and continue to make an enormous contribution to the life of the Church, community and country.
WATCH welcomes the appreciation of its long years of campaigning work, together with those supporters in Deanery, Diocesan and General Synods who wish to see women enter the Episcopate.
We concur with the commendation of The Archbishop of Canterbury for the “urgent and effective manner” in which he has worked for the new legislation since his appointment.
Sally Barnes coordinator of the WATCH Parliamentary Task Force said,
“WATCH would like to thank those Members of Parliament who took part in this debate for the many affirming comments made from their personal contacts with ordained women. We are all heartened to know that after so long the value and worth of their vocations have been so emphatically recognised, along with their spiritual, pastoral insights and gifts. We look forward to the same recognition being given to those women who will be appointed as bishops and to the time when the Church of England will have finally broken the stained glass ceiling of discrimination. Then we, with so many others, will rejoice fully.”
Contact:
Hilary Cotton: Chair of Women and the Church WATCH
07793 817 058
Sally Barnes: Coordinator WATCH Parliamentary Task Force
020 8731 9860 or 07759 343 335

Overwhelming support for women to be bishops

WATCH is delighted that the first four Diocesan Synods have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new Women in the Episcopate legislation. The four dioceses that voted last Saturday are Chelmsford, Guildford, St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and Ripon and Leeds. So far the majorities are 100% of bishops in favour and 94% of both clergy and laity. The full breakdown by diocese are detailed below.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH, said 'These very positive results once again indicate the whole-hearted support in the wider Church of England for women to become bishops. We look forward to an enthusiastic endorsement of this wish at General Synod in July.'

Women in the Episcopate Legislation

WATCH was very pleased that the legislation to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England is now proceeding. We look forward to having the first woman bishop being nominated by the end of the year.
Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH, said, "There was a real sense of wanting to move forward".
Contact: Sally Barnes Media officer WATCH
07759 343 335

New WATCH chair announced at AGM

At the WATCH Annual General Meeting on Saturday 24th November, following an open election between three excellent candidates, Hilary Cotton was elected as the organisation’s new Chair for the next three years. One of the founder members of WATCH in 1996, Hilary co-ordinated the WATCH campaign for women to be bishops from 2010-2012 and has previously been a Vice-Chair. She will combine her Chairing role with her work as a leadership and team-working consultant in the public sector.

The outgoing Chair Rachel Weir was warmly thanked for the bold and committed leadership she had shown during her three years in office. She was presented with a purple stole embroidered with silver crosses and the WATCH logo.

In her election address, Hilary looked beyond the immediate task of campaigning for women bishops to remind the meeting of WATCH’s broader concern for all women in the church, both lay and ordained: ‘I want WATCH to continue to be a vibrant, inspiring and serious-thinking organisation. We need to be both engaged in the life of the Church of England and drawing the Church into new ways that recognise, value and release women’s gifts and wisdom, for the good of all.’

WATCH encouraged following publication of WiE Steering Group’s draft legislation

The Women in the Episcopate draft legislation put forward for General Synod next month by the Steering Group contains much to encourage those campaigning for the full inclusion of women at every level of the Church. WATCH’s thanks and prayers go to those on the Steering Group working hard to achieve this and who worked under the principles of simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality.

 

There is much in the report that is welcomed by WATCH. Firstly, that the legislation put forward is simple and General Synod’s desire to resolve the issue as quickly and as simply as possible has been reflected in the draft legislation. WATCH also supports the recommendation of the Group to legislate on this issue through a Bishops’ Declaration, not an Act of Synod, and the wholehearted endorsement of women’s ministry in the five guiding principles. It is particularly encouraging that every diocese will have a bishop, whether the diocesan or suffragan, who ordains women to the priesthood with emphasis on consultation between diocesan bishops and parishes and diocesan bishops and PEVs.

 

The appointment of an Independent Reviewer is a new proposal and one which allows a forum for all sides to raise issues and concerns. As a new development, it will be interesting to see how this is received by all groups involved.

 

WATCH has noted the proposed arrangements for those opposed to women holding leadership roles in the church. The church will rarely be unanimous about the appointment of particular people as bishops but it is important that the leadership of bishops is widely recognized and respected amongst those they are appointed to lead.

 

WATCH thanks those involved in the Steering Group for their hard work and commitment to this issue and remains itself committed to working towards the highest possible degree of communion.

 

Anne Stevens, a WATCH vice chair said, 'It’s good to see draft legislation that is so clear and concise, and we look forward to a day of great national rejoicing when women are finally made bishops. We’re grateful to the Steering Committee for all their hard work on the Bishops’ Declaration, which offers people on all sides of the debate a new opportunity to move forward in a spirit of trust and openness to one another.’

 

 

For further enquiries please contact:

 

Rev Anne Stevens vicar@stpancraschurch.org

 

Rev Charles Read charles.read@norwich.anglican.org

 

Rev Pat Storey appointed Bishop of Meath and Kildare

WATCH congratulates and celebrates with the Rev Pat Storey on her appointment of as the Bishop of Meath and Kildare by the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland. This is the first appointment of a woman bishop by the Anglican Church.

Announcing the appointment of the Revd Pat Storey, The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said: ‘Having known Pat Storey since she was an undergraduate and I was Chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin, I very much welcome her as a new bishop. She is a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth and I am certain that her ministry in the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare and the wider Church will be a blessing to many. We remember her and her family in our prayers.’
Responding, the Revd Pat Storey said: ‘I am both excited and daunted by this new adventure in our lives. I have had an extraordinarily happy experience in St Augustine’s and in this wonderful city which I will be sad to leave. However, I count it an enormous privilege to begin a new phase of my ministry with the people of Meath and Kildare, and I look forward to working with the team of clergy who are already there. I would sincerely ask for your prayers for myself and my family, who are the best family in the world!’

The Church of England now remains the only Anglican Church within the UK and Ireland not to appoint women as bishops, following legislation which passed overwhelmingly in the Church in Wales’ Governing Body last week to enable women to join the episcopate.

Church in Wales says ‘Yes’ to women bishops

WATCH is delighted at the result of the vote on allowing women to become bishops passed by the Governing Body of the Church in Wales. In the end the vote was a straightforward one, either yes or no to allowing women to join the episcopate. The House of Laity voted For, 57, Against, 14, Abstentions, 2, in the House of Clergy For, 37, Against, 10 and Abstentions, 0 and in the House of Bishops For 6, Against, 0 and Abstentions, 0.  The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan said before the vote that if it was a yes vote, the Bishops would consult widely on a code of practice and that there would be discussions about it at the Governing Body in April 2014.
The vote in Wales provides much encouragement to those praying and campaigning to see women take their rightful place alongside men at every level , including the episcopate, in the Church of England.
The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said "This is fantastic news and we are delighted that the Church in Wales has opted for simple legislation enabling women to become bishops. The vote will provide a welcome boost to the morale of female clergy well beyond the welsh borders and help to set a positive context for our own ongoing legislative process in the Church of England"

Response to the announcement of the membership of the Steering Committee appointed to prepare women bishops’ legislation

 

The prompt formation of the Steering Committee, demonstrating the Church of England’s determination to proceed with its commitment to opening the episcopate to women, is welcomed by WATCH.

 

We are glad to receive information on the committee’s makeup, particularly the inclusion of experienced, respected women, lay and ordained, in the discussions. We note the strong presence of those representing groups opposed to the episcopal ministry of women and requesting provision and hope that presence of the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation will enable the different groups to work together to produce constructive legislation.

 

We look forward to seeing legislation produced that will:

 

• honour and uphold both the content and spirit of Option One, which received strong support from General Synod in July.

 

• reflect the House of Bishops unequivocal support for women within all three orders of ministry.

 

• enable women to flourish in all ministries to which God calls them; lay, ordained and episcopal, on equality with men, reflecting the inclusive heart of Christian scripture and tradition.