Women and the Church (WATCH) today announced that the Rev’d Rachel Weir has decided not to seek re-election after serving her term of three years as Chair. She will step down at the end of September.

She said, “It has been an enormous privilege to lead WATCH for the past three years.  We have faced many challenges but it has been a great joy to work with such a wonderful group of people in advancing God’s Gospel work of liberation.” 

Over the past three years, Rachel has provided strong direction for WATCH and its mission to affirm, campaign and transform. Her wisdom and leadership have supported many through both the positive and the challenging times. She will be greatly missed and WATCH thanks her and wishes her every blessing for the future.

The new Chair will take office at WATCH’s AGM in the autumn and full details of the post will be available in the near future. Enquiries about the post of Chair should be directed to the WATCH Vice Chairs, the Rev’d Anne Stevens ([email protected] ) and the Rev’d Charles Read ([email protected] ).

WATCH continues to campaign for the full equality of women and men as part of God’s will for the Church and for the world, which reflects the inclusive heart of Christian scripture and tradition.

General Synod will have its first opportunity at its meeting in early July to discuss and debate new legislation for women in the episcopate.  These discussions will continue over at least the next two years, as the earliest possible date for ‘Final Approval’ in General Synod is July 2015.

WATCH has been very encouraged by the first stages of this new process. The bishops have indicated that they want to see simple legislation that is unequivocal about women being priests and bishops on the same terms as men. WATCH sincerely hopes that General Synod will endorse this approach and allow the Church to move forward on the issue when it meets next month.


Comments from WATCH’s Vice-Presidents:

The Rev’d Lucy Winkett said “Rachel Weir has led WATCH through a challenging time for the Church with great dignity and ability. She has steadfastly and imaginatively put the case for the consecration of women as well as consolidating and widening the activity of WATCH”.

The Ven. Dr Jane Hedges said, “Rachel has served as Chair of WATCH during a particularly challenging period in Church history and has done so with unswerving commitment and enormous energy.”

“Rachel Weir’s leadership of WATCH during an extremely demanding period has been energetic, intelligent and clear-sighted. She has been concerned to place WATCH’s campaigning work within a wider theological vision, and to encourage the Church to think creatively and adventurously about the place of women and men in society and ministry.” Dr Nicola Slee

Baroness Elspeth Howe added “what a sterling example to us all she had been of how not to give up on this vitally important mission of achieving Women Bishops.”

“I have worked with Rachel Weir in her position as chair of WATCH for the past three years and have always been impressed by her knowledge of the situation, the way she has dedicated herself to our cause and by her many achievements on behalf of WATCH. I’m very sorry that we are losing Rachel, however understand her reasons for moving on and wish her well”.     Ann Cryer JP