Summer 2020

From the Editor Cath Williamson

Welcome to this edition of Outlook, being published, as it is, in a strange and difficult time for many of us. The magazine the WATCH committee planned in January is very different to the one we have actually arrived at. Events have been cancelled and photographic opportunities disappeared. However, the work of WATCH has continued, albeit over Zoom and other remote media. In this issue, we present an update on our strategy and discuss the ongoing work exploring and challenging the Five Guiding Principles. We outline the work of the Transformations Group, particularly the provision – finally – of a national maternity policy for clergy. We include photographs of priests who are women responding to the pandemic in various, creative ways. Whatever the wider circumstances, and who knows what the rest of the year will bring, we remain WATCHing to ensure that the Church of England is a fully inclusive place for women.

From the Chair Emma Percy

I am writing this report in the middle of lockdown in this very strange spring of 2020. We have not been allowed in our churches and we have had to learn new ways of worshipping. The Church Twittersphere has had heated debates about the place of our buildings, the sacraments and the role of clergy. Some of these debates have raised interesting questions about gender and space. Personally, I have missed the buildings and the music. I have found preaching into an iPad in my room a very different experience from engaging with real people. I have, however, been amazed at the dedication of so many in making worship possible. Let us hope that some of this creativity continues to shape our worship. This last year for WATCH has been one of continuing to ensure that careful research enables us to challenge the Church on issues that particularly impact women. The November Transformations Day included research conducted by WATCH into the roles of Deans of Women’s Ministry carried out for us by Susy Brouhard. Amongst other issues, it highlighted the area of harassment and bullying and WATCH has begun to analyse diocesan provisions. The Five Guiding Principles and the legislation around them continues to be a cause of concern for many women in the Church. I have been sitting on the central Implementation and Dialogue group which has just reported to the House of Bishops. I cannot comment any further at the moment except to say that the experience has, at times, been surreal. Here, again, there seems to be little experience of the current equality culture in the world beyond the Church. Lizzie Taylor, a member of the WATCH committee, has been working tirelessly for us in asking for Transparency. We accept that churches can discriminate against women for ‘theological’ reasons, but we do not understand why they are not upfront about the fact that they do. On practical issues, we are still making changes to reflect that WATCH is a charity. We need to ensure that all our work connects to our objectives and that we make the best use of the income we have. We thank Mark Bennet for his work as treasurer over many years. At last, we have a new treasurer in John Briggs. Part of the change for WATCH has been moving our banking to CAF bank and we do need to move all our members over to this system. Many of you have made the change and we thank you for this. Others still need to make the move. The information you need is set out in this issue of Outlook and on the website. WATCH is still needed as we work to challenge the Church to be a place where women flourish. Thank you for being part of that.

You can download a PDF copy of OUTLOOK 37 this is best viewed on a desktop computer 

Table of contents for OUTLOOK 37

  1. Bishop Rose responds with ‘yes’
  2. An update on the strategy for WATCH
  3. In 2019, the first anthology of sacred music by women composers was published. It was clear from the moment of its inception that this was not going to be an easy task.
  4. The ongoing work of the Transformations Steering Group
  5. It’s one thing to change the law, it’s another to change the culture
  6. The Transformations Steering Group is evaluating Church guidelines for addressing bullying and harassment
  7. The Revd Kat Campion-Spall, Associate Vicar of St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol, had a sabbatical earlier this year, experiencing the Church in New Zealand. She reflects on the experience:
  8. The Revd Kat Campion Spall, Associate Vicar of St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol, had a sabbatical earlier this year, experiencing the Church in New Zealand. She reflects on the experience:The Revd Anne Stevens, Coordinator of the WATCH General Synod Group, offers her reflections:
  9. During lockdown, Anne Stevens, Vicar of St Pancras, conducted a a marriage at University College Hospital in London.
  10. WATCH has continued to highlight concern about the lack of transparency over the exclusion of women from leadership positions in conservative evangelical churches. Hannah Fytche outlines her personal experience and the effects of this lack of openness:
  11. The Five Guiding Principles: a source of healing or a wound?
  12. The latest Church statistics reveal a continuing mixed picture in terms of women’s ministry equality
  13. The Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of churches has led to new and creative ways of worshipping online. Some have embraced this and others have found it a more difficult experience, varying over the period of the lockdown.
  14. Decade Review The WATCH Committee on the key events of the last ten years.
  15. Book Reviews