A Report on the Developments in Women’s Ministry in 2021

Introduction

This year, WATCH’s annual analysis of data published by the Church of England Research and Statistics Department, and dioceses, also looks at the results of the delayed elections to General Synod in September 2021. Other than in the House of Bishops, there is no significant difference in the proportions of women and men who are members of Synod. Other than elected suffragans, only diocesan bishops are members of the House of Bishops, so women remain only 20% of the membership of the House.

For nearly two years, we have been living with the Covid 19 pandemic which has created many challenges for clergy, laity and their churches and communities. The financial challenges faced by parishes and dioceses have been magnified by the effects of the pandemic, which is leading to anxiety about the possible need to reduce the number of stipendiary clergy more rapidly than had been planned. WATCH is particularly concerned to ensure that any such reductions do not affect women more than men, and that women curates and ordinands are not treated differently from male colleagues.

As we go to press, we are pleased to note the appointment of Rev’d Canon Dr Flora Winfield as Third Church Estates Commissioner.

Table 1 The proportion of stipendiary parish clergy who are women in each diocese (page 3)

WATCH has published the percentage of women in each diocese holding incumbent and incumbent status posts since 2012. This is the group which forms the majority of parish clergy, although House for Duty posts are increasing at the moment. Table 1 shows what the percentage of this group was in each diocese in December 2020, and also shows this proportion in recent years.

  • In 2020, in 25 dioceses 30% or more of stipendiary parish clergy were women. In 2015, only 10 dioceses had this proportion.
  • Chichester remains the diocese with the lowest proportion of stipendiary women clergy (16%), and Ely remains the diocese with the highest proportion (43%).
  • The two dioceses where the proportion of women clergy is consistently decreasing are Sheffield, from 30% in 2014 to 22% in 2020; and Hereford from 34% in 2015 to 30% in 2020.

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

%2015 2017 2019 2020 
40% and overEly43Ely41Ely42Ely43
35%-39%Truro
Liverpool
37
37
Southwell and Notts
Salisbury
Peterborough
Truro
38

37
35
35
Peterborough
Southwell and Notts
Gloucester
Liverpool
Salisbury
Truro
39

39
37
37
36
36
30%-34%Hereford
Truro
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell
St Edmundsbury
and Ipswich
Peterborough
Portsmouth
Gloucester
34
33
32
32
32
32


31
31
30
Hereford
Portsmouth
St Eds and Ipswich
Durham
Gloucester
Peterborough
Lincoln
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell &Notts
St Albans
Worcester
33
32
32

31
31
31
30
30
30
30

30
30
Liverpool
Gloucester
Portsmouth
Manchester
Norwich
Worcester
Leicester
Leeds
Coventry
Hereford
Lincoln
St Albans
Bath and Wells
St Eds and Ips
34
34
34
33
33
33
32
32
31
31
31
31
30

30
Portsmouth
Worcester
Coventry
Oxford
Birmingham
Leicester
Norwich
St Albans
Lincoln
Manchester
Newcastle
Leeds
Bath & Wells
Chelmsford
Chester
Derby
Durham
Hereford
34
34
33
33
32
32
32
32
31
31
31
31
30
30
30
30
30
30
25%-29%Bath and Wells
Liverpool
Sheffield
St Albans
Durham
Leeds
Leicester
Lincoln
Worcester
Derby
Chester
Chelmsford
Norwich
Oxford
29

29
29
29
27
28
28
28
27
27
26
25
25
25
Bristol
Derby
Leeds
Leicester
Guildford
Sheffield
Bath and Wells
Norwich
Chelmsford
Chester
Coventry
Newcastle
Oxford
Southwark
Birmingham
28
28
28
28
28
28
27

27
26
26
26
26
26
26
25
Guildford
Newcastle
Sodor and Man
Birmingham
Bristol
Chelmsford
Chester
Oxford
Derby
Durham
Sheffield
York
Lichfield
Southwark
29
29
29

28
28
28
28
28
26
26
26
26
25
25
Guildford
Bristol
Lichfield
St Eds and Ips
Sodor and Man
Canterbury
Rochester
Southwark
Carlisle
29
29
29
29

29

26
26
26
25
20%-24%Guildford
Southwark
Newcastle
York
Birmingham
Canterbury
Coventry
Rochester
24
24
23
23
22
21
20
20
York
Sodor and Man
Canterbury
Lichfield
Winchester
24
24

22
22
20
Canterbury
Winchester
Rochester
Blackburn
24
24
23
21
Blackburn
York
Winchester
Sheffield
24
24
23
22
15%-20%Bristol
Carlisle
Exeter
Lichfield
Sodor and Man*
Europe
Blackburn
Winchester
19
19
19
19
18

16
15
15
Exeter
Rochester
Carlisle
19
19
18
Carlisle
London
Chichester
Exeter
(Channel Islands)
19
19
16
16
15
London
Exeter
Europe
Chichester
(Channel Islands
19
17
16
16
19
14% and underLondon
Chichester
12
10
Blackburn
London
Chichester
Channel islands
Europe
14
14
12
12

9
Europe14None

Table 2: The percentage of male and female Stipendiary and SSM clergy in each diocese

This table shows the proportion of each of four groups of clergy in each diocese:

  • Women SSM clergy, women stipendiary clergy, male SSM clergy, male stipendiary clergy In every diocese, women are less than half of all licensed clergy. 45% is the highest proportion of female clergy in any diocese.
  • Generally, the dioceses with the highest and lowest total percentage of women clergy correlate with the dioceses with the highest and lowest percentages of stipendiary female parish clergy.
  • A higher proportion of all women clergy are SSM, compared to the male clergy.
  • Sheffield has nearly as many SSM women clergy as stipendiary women clergy but five times as many male stipendiary clergy as male SSM clergy. Winchester and Canterbury show a similar pattern.
  • There is no way of knowing how many SSM clergy are House for Duty or give several days a week to ministry in the parish, and how many have other jobs and are also ordained.
  • It is important to remember the different contexts of dioceses in the Church of England. A woman serving in a diocese where 44% or 45% of licensed clergy are women is likely to have a very different experience from a woman in a diocese where only 26% licensed clergy are women.
  • These figures are based on December 2020. There is concern that in the past year fewer stipendiary posts are being advertised, and there is a growing reliance on SSM clergy.

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

   Percentage of female clergy  Percentage of male clergy  
DiocesesTotal numberSSMStipendaryTotalSSMStipendaryTotal
Dioceses with 40-50% total clergy female
9Chester315142640105060
11Coventry171142943114758
14Ely211152944203656
16Gloucester180162642164258
22Liverpool242103040144660
25Newcastle154172542114758
28Peterborough17811334484856
29Portsmouth136152944124456
33St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich198192140164460
34Salisbury272172845104555
38Southwell & Nottingham1518324095160
39Truro116162844104656
Diocese 30-39% total clergy female
5Bristol193122133204868
6Canterbury1689273675764
7Carlisle135151934155166
8Chelmsford470172037174663
12Derby19392736194564
13Durham185152439115061
17Guildford262122335184866
18Hereford119142438105262
19Leicester16682836115263
20Lichfield335102636135164
21Lincoln231132336204464
24Manchester295112334214667
26Norwich23062733115768
27Oxford576142438184462
31Rochester24512243675764
32St. Albans30992837115263
35Sheffield170161834115566
*36Sodor & Man2292332234568
37Southwark449102232145367
41Winchester210181836115364
42Worcester143112738105262
46Leeds440112536164864
43York280191938154762
Diocese 20-29% clergy women
3Blackburn2187222976370
10Chichester373111526136275
15Exeter287131528145872
23London74791827155873
**44Europe14581624235477
Channel Islands3811132457176

Table 3: Women in Senior Leadership roles

The numbers of women in senior roles (bishop, archdeacon and cathedral Dean) have not changed significantly since Dec 2019. The figures used in this report are those given on diocesan websites at the start of January 2022. They include bishops appointed but not yet consecrated and/or installed.

Suffragans who are PEVs are not included in this table. Currently there is only one (Richborough) because the bishop of Ebbsfleet resigned in Sep 2021 when he converted to Roman Catholicism, and the Bishop of Beverley retired at Epiphany 2022.

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

  December 2019December 2020December 2021
Diocesan bishopsFemale555
Male363632
Suffragan bishopsFemale192021
Male484645
ArchdeaconsFemale32.53840
Male898280
Cathedral deansFemale6710
Male37.83533
  • The number of cathedral Deans who are women has increased in the last year, but this is still a low proportion of Deans, particularly considering that the first woman was appointed to this role in 2000.
  • The number of women who are suffragan bishops is increasing very slightly, but the number of women appointed as Diocesan bishops has not increased, and so the number of bishops in the Lords has not increased either. (The Bishop of Chelmsford was consecrated and installed in 2021, but the Bishop of Newcastle retired at the end of November)
  • Only two mainland dioceses (Carlisle and Rochester) have no women in senior roles, although 10 dioceses only have one woman on their ex-officio senior staff. Two of the largest dioceses, Leeds and London only have ratios of 2:14 and 3:13 of women to men among their senior staff. It is worth noting again that for a group to make good decisions that take account of groups excluded from decision making processes, a third of members need to be from this group.
  • The Deans of Jersey and Guernsey, the senior clergy on each island, are both men, but are not included in the table as their roles are not the same as cathedral Deans.
  • The table includes 3 bishops and two deans who are known to be retiring or moving early in 2022. There are currently 5 dioceses without a diocesan bishop and so this means that 7 diocesan bishops are due to be appointed in 2022.
  • The Very Rev Stephen Lake has been announced as the new Bishop of Salisbury since compiling these tables.
  Diocesan Bishop Suffragan Bishop Cathedral Dean Archdeacon 
FemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMale
1Bath & Wells00100111
2Birmingham01100111
3Blackburn01110102
5Bristol10011002
6Canterbury01100102
7Carlisle01000103
8Chelmsford10120134
9Chester01110102
10Chichester01110113
11Coventry01010111
12Derby10010111
13Durham01100112
14Ely01100102
15Exeter01110113
16Gloucester10010112
17Guildford01101002
18Hereford01001011
19Leicester01010111
20Lichfield01120122
21Lincoln00021011
22Liverpool01101013
23London10150114
24Manchester01020112
25Newcastle00010120
26Norwich01111012
27Oxford01120113
28Peterborough01010111
29Portsmouth01000112
31Rochester00010102
32St. Albans01021021
33St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich01010131
34Salisbury00110122
35Sheffield01101002
*36Sodor & Man01000100
37Southwark01030123
38Southwell & Nottingham01011011
39Truro01010112
41Winchester01111001
42Worcester01010111
43York01110121
46Leeds01140314
**44Europe010114
Total532214510334180

Table 4: Numbers, age and gender of ordinands starting training in 2021

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

 20192020 2020  2021  
AgeFemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotal
Under 25172441151631101828
25-29184159214970222850
30-34246084245074274269
35-39332962302555252651
40-44342761463682412263
45-49582482544195372764
50-54432265552681392160
55-59421759371754361350
60-642052524529201535
65 and over6410426819
Total295253548310267577265213478

The table shows the gender and age of ordinands who started training in September 2021, and in the previous two years. The pattern of women ordinands being significantly older than men when they are selected for training is still very clear. WATCH remains concerned that this` imbalance in age of male and female ordinands is still not acknowledged by the Church of England or Ministry Division.

The total number beginning training is lower than in the two previous years. The proportion of all women starting training is slightly higher (55% in 2021 and 53% in 2020) but once again the majority of women ordinands are aged over 40. 58% women ordinands were aged between 40 and 59 while 53% of male ordinands were under 40. At the moment the Church of England is demonstrably failing in its aim of encouraging young women to train for ordained ministry.

Training Pathways

This age and gender imbalance is reflected in the training paths followed by men and women.

 %age all women%age all men
Full time residential17%36%
Full time non residential27%24%
Part time56%40%

As noted in last year’s report, the Church of England gives a block grant to dioceses based on the number and ages of ordinands it sponsors. The grant is heavily weighted towards young ordinands aged 32 or younger, and from the age of 40 the grant will only cover the costs of part time training. As we can see from the table above, fewer than half of women ordinands train full time and fewer than 20% train residentially.

This also means that in many residential training institutions the majority of ordinands will be male, and so these ordinands are being formed in a context which continues to normalise clergy being male.

Normalising male leadership in the Church of England is also reflected in those who lead TEIs. Out of ten TEIs offering residential training, only one Principal is a woman (Westcott). None of the Principals of institutions offering Mixed Mode or part-time training are women. Women are part of the academic staff, but in most colleges they are a minority. Encouraging women to imagine themselves in leadership roles needs to be taken more seriously by those responsible for training ordinands, and considered seriously when making appointments.

We note the plan to set up Ladyewell House in Preston, which will be linked to Emmanuel North West, and designed to train ordinands called to pioneer ministry from a Catholic perspective. Ladyewell House will be open to only men. We ask where women with a vocation to sacramental, catholic pioneer ministry will be supported in their training and formation if the existing colleges are not considered to be offering this formation satisfactorily.

(see report 17 December 2021 Church Times)

Table 5: Age and gender of Sep 2021 cohort of ordinands following different training pathway

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

 Full-time residential Full-time non-residentail Part-time  
AgeFemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMaleTotal
20-24714340028
25-291220783050
30-34102211166469
35-396111277851
40-444716721863
45-4932165182064
50-543033331860
55-590131331149
60-640010191535
65-690000819
Total4577725114885478

Lay Ministry

We know that much of the local ministry in parishes happens because of lay people, some of whom are nationally licensed (eg Readers/LLMs; Church Army evangelists), some of whom are authorised by their diocese and some of whom even more locally. There is little good quality data on the numbers of those involved in local churches in this way, although the Church of England’s Research and Statistics Department is looking for ways of doing this (see p 26-9 of the Ministry Statistics 2020 Report) It is worth noting:

“It was also found that nearly two thirds of individuals in lay roles were women, but that licensed posts were less likely to be held by women than authorised/commissioned or locally recognised ones.” (p30)

The patterns for women in Reader/LLM ministry are very similar to women in SSM roles.

In Dec 2020:

  • 54% Readers in active ministry were women
  • 66% total Readers in training were women
  • 1% Women Readers are under 40 (and 2% male Readers)

The newly elected General Synod: how many women were elected?

The new General Synod for the quinquennium 20121-26 was elected in September 2021 and inaugurated in November. This group of people will be responsible for legislation passed by the Church of England during this time, and, as far as they can, holding to account those who speak and act in the name of the Church of England. It is known that the more diversity there is among the members of a decision making group, the greater the likelihood of good decision making, so WATCH has looked at the gender balance among the members in Synod.

This table gives the numbers of men and women members

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

 WomenMen% womenNotes
House of Layity1059253%
Laity ex-officio39
House of Clergy6513133%
Clergy ex-officio1‚0
House of Bishops (diocesans)6*3220%20% of the whole Hose of Bishops are women
Elected Suffragans36
House of Bishops ex-officio11The Bishop of Dover and the Bishop for the Forces are ex-officio members of the House of Bishops

*The number of women in the House of Bishops fell to 5 one week after the end of Synod, when the Bishop of Newcastle (the Rt Rev Christine Hardman) retired.

  • Although more women have been appointed as suffragan bishops since 2015, the numbers of women in the House of Bishops remain low, because only 6 diocesan bishops (now 5) are women. This is significant because of the role of the House of Bishops in guiding policy nationally.
  • The proportion of women in the other houses of clergy and laity has barely changed since 2015, when women made up 32% of the House of Clergy and 50.5% of the House of Laity.
  • In four mainland dioceses (Blackburn, Ely, Portsmouth and Winchester) no ordained women have been elected. No ordained women stood for election in Blackburn and Portsmouth, and none stood in 2015 either. It is surprising that Ely has no women among its clergy representatives, because it is one of the dioceses with the highest proportion of clergy who are female. (see tables 1 and 2).
  • No ordained women represent either Sodor and Man or the Channel Islands , though these are particular constituencies and do include women among their lay representatives.

The diversity of the various Synod Committees and other roles is also significant. In recent elections the Dr Jamie Harrison was elected Chair of the House of Laity and Alison Coulter as Vice chair, The Ven Luke Miller and the Rev Kate Wharton were elected as the Prolocutors of Canterbury and York. This balance is good to see, although the ordained women in the province of Canterbury may wonder how the 5 Guiding Principles enables a priest who does not think that they should exist to represent them fully.

Acknowledgements and Sources

Acknowledgements and Sources Data in tables 1 and 2 based on the Report “Ministry Statistics 2019” and Diocesan Tables published June 2020 and produced by Church of England Research and Statistics, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ, available online www.churchofengland.org/researchandstats

Table 3 is based on information published on diocesan and cathedral websites Jan 202

Table 4 based on data provided in response to Question 4, asked in General Synod Nov 20 and question 107 asked in General Synod Nov 2021

Information on TEI staff taken from websites Jan 2022

A Report on the Developments in Women’s Ministry in 2020

Introduction

WATCH has been publishing an annual analysis of data based on statistics collected by the Church of England Research and Statistics Department. This year the report also includes a table comparing the proportions of women in roles defined as incumbents and those in roles defined as “incumbent status”, and one comparing the proportions of women in each diocese licensed to stipendiary roles with those licensed as SSM.

Over these years the proportion of women holding stipendiary parish posts has been increasing in most dioceses. However, there are still only eight dioceses where more than a third of such stipendiary posts are held by women.

  • A significantly higher proportion of men are licensed to incumbent roles and a higher proportion of women are licensed to incumbent status roles.
  • Women clergy are more likely to be in SSM roles than stipendiary and in some dioceses the difference is significant. For example, in Rochester 70% SSM clergy are women but only 23% of stipendiary clergy. This raises a question about the culture of these dioceses, and whether women will be able to flourish in ministry there.
  • The majority of men are selected and trained while aged under 40, while for women the opposite is true.
  • WATCH is aware that we have not considered the proportions of women clergy who are BAME. This is because we cannot find this information, despite asking. This is of concern, particularly because all professionals who work to promote an egalitarian culture will stress the importance of an awareness of intersectionality. However, we are glad to congratulate the Rt Rev Guli Francis-Deqani on her appointment as Bishop of Chelmsford.

We also recognise that the role of lay women is not shown this year. The patterns shown in previous reports for the gender of LLMs continue to be very similar. It continues to be hard to find meaningful data on the many ways in which lay women contribute to the ministry of the church. This is a reflection on both the way women are regarded in the Church of England and also laity in general.

General synod elections have been delayed a year. In 2015 32% of elected members of the House of Clergy were women and 50.5% elected members of the House of Laity*. We would like to encourage women to stand in General Synod elections this autumn in both the House of Laity and the House of Clergy. In 2015 there were some dioceses where no women stood for election. WATCH thanks those members of General Synod who have served an extra year, particularly those who have worked through Synod for greater inclusivity in the Church of England.

*(Thinking Anglicans blog, Friday, 30 October 2015)

Table 1: Proportion of stipendiary parish clergy who are women in each diocese

Since 2012, WATCH has published the percentage of women in each diocese holding incumbent and incumbent status stipendiary posts. This group forms the majority of (paid) parish clergy. This year we compare the proportions of women in such posts over two year intervals from 2013 to 2019.

  • In 2019, in half of all dioceses 29% or more of stipendiary clergy were women, compared to 2013, when the median figure for the proportion of women in such posts was 23%.
  • In 2013, fifteen dioceses had under 20% women in stipendiary incumbent/incumbent status posts and in seven dioceses the proportion was 13% or lower. By 2019 five dioceses had under 20% women in such posts.
  • In 2019 the dioceses with the lowest proportion of women of stipendiary incumbent status were Exeter and Chichester with 16%, and Europe with 14%. The Channel Islands also have only 15% of such posts held by women.
  • Ely remains the diocese with the highest proportion of women in such roles, but the proportion of women has not increased since 2013, remaining between 41% and 43%. We would not like to think that this is a natural ceiling for the proportion of women in stipendiary parish ministry.
  • We note that from 2013 onwards, some dioceses have consistently increased the proportion of women by a significant amount. eg Liverpool, from 25% to 34%; Worcester from 23% 33%, Bristol from 17% to 28%.
  • In other dioceses the proportion of women has decreased: eg Hereford from 38% to 31%; Sheffield from 29% to 26%.
  • The dioceses of both archbishops continue to be in the lower half of this table. In Canterbury only 24% of stipendiary parish clergy are women and in York only 26%.

We do not have any information to indicate whether dioceses have strategies to increase the proportion of women among their clergy or even if they monitor gender diversity. All dioceses will be aware that diversity is important in being able to respond to a changing world and use the gifts of all the people God has called. Dioceses need to monitor diversity, including the proportions of women in all roles, in order to create strategies to increase diversity.

%2013 2015 2017 2019 
40% and overEly41Ely43Ely41
Ely42
35%-39%Hereford
Ripon and Leeds
38

38
Liverpool
Truro
35
37
Southwell and Nott
Salisbury
Peterborough
Truro
38

37
35
35
30%-34%St Edmundsbury
and Ipswich
Manchester
Peterborough
Southwell
31


30
30
30
Hereford
Truro
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell
St Edmundsbury
and Ipswich
Peterborough
Portsmouth
Gloucester
34
33
32
32
32
32


31
31
30
Hereford
Portsmouth
St Eds and Ipswich
Durham
Gloucester
Peterborough
Lincoln
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell
St Albans
Worcester
33
32
32

31
31
31
30
30
32
30
30
30
Liverpool
Gloucester
Portsmouth
Manchester
Norwich
Worcester
Leicester
Leeds
Coventry
Hereford
Lincoln
St Albans
Bath and Wells
St Eds and Ipswich
34
34
34
33
33
33
32
32
31
31
31
31
30

30
25%-29%Bath and Wells
Sheffield
Leicester
St Albans
Leeds
Salisbury
Chester
Derby
Gloucester
Liverpool
Portsmouth
29

29
28
28
26
26
25
25
28
25
25
Bath and Wells
Liverpool
Sheffield
St Albans
Durham
Leeds
Leicester
Lincoln
Worcester
Derby
Chester
Chelmsford
Norwich
Oxford
29

29
29
29
27
28
28
28
27
27
26
25
25
25
Bristol
Derby
Leeds
Leicester
Guildford
Sheffield
Bath and Wells
Norwich
Chelmsford
Chester
Coventry
Newcastle
Oxford
Southwark
Birmingham
28
28
28
28
26
28
27

27
26
26
26
26
26
26
25
Guildford
Newcastle
Sodor and Man
Birmingham
Bristol
Chelmsford
Chester
Oxford
Derby
Durham
Sheffield
York
Lichfield
Southwark
29
29
29

28
28
28
28
28
26
26
26
26
25
25
20%-24%Newcastle
Oxford
Birmingham
Chelmsford
Durham
Lincoln
Worcester
Guildford
Southwark
Truro
Exeter
Norwich
24
24
23
23
23
23
23
21
21
21
20
20
Guildford
Southwark
Newcastle
York
Birmingham
Canterbury
Coventry
Rochester
24
24
23
23
22
21
20
20
York
Sodor and Man
Canterbury
Lichfield
Winchester
24
24

22
22
20
Canterbury
Winchester
Rochester
Blackburn
24
24
23
21
15%-20%Carlisle
Coventry
Lichfield
Rochester
York
Sodor and Man*
Bristol
Canterbury
19
19
19
19
19
18

17
17
Bristol
Carlisle
Exeter
Lichfield
Sodor and Man*
Europe
Blackburn
Winchester
19
19
19
19
18

16
15
15
Exeter
Rochester
Carlisle
19
19
18
Carlisle
London
Chichester
Exeter
(Channel Islands)
19
19
16
16
15
14% and underBlackburn
London
Bradford
Chichester
Wakefield
Winchester
Europe*
13
12
11
11
6
6
0
Chichester
London
10
12
Blackburn
London
Chichester
Channel Islands
Europe
14
14
12
12

9
Europe14

Table 2: Comparison of incumbent and incumbent status roles of female stipendiary clergy

Parish clergy can be licensed as “Incumbents” or to a post which is classified as “incumbent status”. In general, most people in a parish do not know, and certainly don’t worry about, the legal status of “their vicar”. This is why in our annual analysis of proportions of stipendiary clergy who are women (table 1) WATCH combines these two groups because the sort of role they have is so similar. However, clergy with jobs which in the church might be regarded as “more senior” or carrying more responsibility such as Team Rector, or the vicar or rector of a large church, are normally licensed as incumbents, and roles such as Team Vicar or priest-in-charge are normally classified as “incumbent status”.

A complication in making comparisons between dioceses is that different dioceses have different proportions of clergy licensed as incumbents. In Blackburn 92% of clergy are classified as incumbents, while in Worcester the proportion is 53%. However, a comparison of the proportion of female clergy classified as either incumbent or incumbent status in each diocese showed at once that women are under-represented in the group of incumbents and over represented in the group of incumbent status clergy. It is clear that a smaller proportion of women clergy are licensed to posts traditionally regarded as carrying more responsibility. There are only three dioceses where more than a third of clergy licensed as incumbents are women, and no diocese has more than 38% women in such roles. In 21 dioceses, the proportion of incumbents who are women is 25% or lower.

However, if we compare clergy classified as “ incumbent status”, the proportion of women with such roles is 33% or higher in 29 dioceses. In seven dioceses, over 50% of “incumbent status” clergy are women.
It is also worth noting the dioceses where there is a significant difference between the proportions of women who hold these two sorts of licence. For example, in Newcastle 54% of incumbent status stipendiary clergy are women, but women are only 19% of incumbents. In Blackburn, 50% incumbent status clergy are women but only 19% of incumbents are women. In Canterbury and Winchester, 36% and 37% (respectively) of incumbent status clergy are women but only 17% of incumbents are women. Gloucester and Exeter dioceses are the only ones where proportions of women licensed as incumbents and to incumbent status roles is equivalent.

There may be several reasons for these discrepancies, such as clergy who are incumbents often remaining in the same post for longer than those who are incumbent status, so changes take longer to have an effect. However, the data suggests that although the proportion of women in stipendiary ministry is rising slowly, the proportion of women appointed to roles such as Team Rector continues to lag behind. This is something dioceses should be auditing and taking account of in any pastoral reorganisation.

%DiocesesProportion of incumbents who are woman by %DiocesesProportion of woman holding incumbent status by %
50% and above0Newcastle
Salisbury
Ely
Lincoln
Manchester
Sodor and Man
Blackburn
54
52
51
51
50
50
50
40- 49%0Guildford
Worcester
Hereford
York
Peterborough
Truro
Portsmouth
St Eds and Ips
Southwell and Notts
Birmingham
Chester
Coventry
Liverpool
Norwich
Leeds
49
48
47
46
45
45
44
44
44

43
42
43
43
41
41
30-39%Ely
Southwell and Notts
Gloucester
Peterborough
Leicester
St Albans
Salisbury
Bath and Wells
38
36

34
33
32
32
30
30
Oxford
Durham
Rochester
Winchester
Canterbury
Derby
Gloucester
Bristol
Lichfield
Sheffield
Leicester
Chelmsford
Southwark
39
37
37
37
36
35
35
33
33
33
32
31
30
20-29%Coventry
Liverpool
Norwich
Portsmouth
Leeds
Guildford
Truro
Chester
Hereford
Lincoln
Manchester
Oxford
Birmingham
Chelmsford
St Eds and Ips
Southwark
Bristol
Lichfield
Sheffield
York
Derby
Worcester
Rochester
Sodor and Man
29
29
29
29
28
27
27
26
26
26
26
26
25
25
25
24
23
23
23
22
21
21
20
20
Bath and Wells
St Albans
Chichester
Carlisle
28
26
24
22
10-19%Blackburn
London
Newcastle
Durham
Canterbury
Winchester
Carlisle
Exeter
Chichester
19
19
19
18
17
17
16
16
14
Exeter
London
Europe
17
17
14

Table 3: Comparison of proportions of SSM clergy and Stipendiary Clergy

A significant number of parishes are only able to keep offering ministry to their communities because of the time and commitment of clergy who are not paid (Self Supporting Ministers). There continues to be a significant gender imbalance between SSM and stipendiary clergy.
The Church of England Ministry Report (June 2020) published several tables with information on numbers of SSM clergy (Appendix 1, tables 4 -7). From the tables it can be seen that

“Although only 32% of all active ordained ministers were female, they made up half of all non stipendiary and self supporting ministers.”

From the published tables we can see that:

  • 35% ordained women with roles in licensed ministry, including chaplaincies) are SSM while
  • 18% ordained men with similar roles are SSM
  • 48% female SSM clergy are in rural ministry, compared to 41% male SSM clergy.

Table 3 compares the proportion of women who are Self Supporting Ministers, with the proportion who are in stipendiary parish ministry, in each diocese.

  • On average, 28% stipendiary clergy are women, while 50% SSM clergy are women.
  • In many diocese, the proportion of SSM female clergy is nearly twice the proportion of female stipendiary clergy.
  • In four dioceses, the proportion of women SSM clergy is about 3 times the proportion of women stipendiary clergy: Carlisle, Chichester, Exeter and Rochester, (the Channel islands also have a noticeably higher proportion of SSM women clergy)
  • The proportions of stipendiary and SSM clergy who are women are roughly similar in only three dioceses: Ely, Leicester and Southwell and Nottingham.

In dioceses where there is a significant imbalance in these proportions, questions need to be asked about why this might exist. Is it unconscious bias against stipendiary women clergy, a lack of role models among stipendiary clergy who are women or something else? What assumptions are being made?

SSM clergy are essential to the ministry of the Church of England, but the church needs to value this ministry fully, and ensure that women in such roles who are under pension age are not being exploited by lack of pension and NI contributions.

 Diocese%age SSM clergy who are female%age stipendiary parish clergy who are female
1Diocese of Bath and Wells5430
2Diocese of Birmingham5228
3Diocese of Blackburn4921
5Diocese of Bristol6128
6Diocese of Canterbury5824
7Diocese of Carlisle5619
8Diocese of Chelmsford5328
9Diocese of Chester5828
10Diocese of Chichester4416
11Diocese of Coventry6231
12Diocese of Derby4626
13Diocese of Durham5926
14Diocese of Ely4042
15Diocese of Exeter5116
16Diocese of Gloucester4734
17Diocese of Guildford5129
18Diocese of Hereford6131
19Diocese of Leicester3932
20Diocese of Lichfield5525
21Diocese of Lincoln5431
22Diocese of Liverpool5334
23Diocese of London3419
24Diocese of Manchester5633
25Diocese of Newcastle6129
26Diocese of Norwich5133
27Diocese of Oxford4428
28Diocese of Peterborough6235
29Diocese of Portsmouth5934
30Diocese of Rochester7023
31Diocese of St Albans4731
32Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich5430
33Diocese of Salisbury6137
34Diocese of Sheffield5826
35Diocese of Sodor and Man4029
36Diocese of Southwark4425
37Diocese of Southwell3938
38Diocese of Truro5835
39Diocese of Winchester5824
40Diocese of Worcester5233
41Diocese of York5826
42Diocese of Leeds4832
43Diocese in Europe2314
44Channel Islands7115
Total5028

Table 4: Women in leadership roles

The numbers of women in senior roles in diocese have not changed significantly since Dec 2019, when the figures were collected by the Research and Statistics department. WATCH has compared these figures with the data for December 2020, and the results are below. There is no significant difference in the numbers of women in these roles over the past year. (Vacancies are not included).

  • In 2019, three new diocesan bishops were appointed (although two were not installed until 2020). All three were male.
  • In 2020 two new diocesan bishops were announced (not yet installed), one male and one female.
  • In 2019 eight new suffragan bishops were appointed, including the Bishop of Dover who is an ex-officio member of the House of Bishops. Seven were women and one was a man.
  • In 2020 eight new suffragan bishops were appointed. One was a woman and the other seven were men.
  • At the end of Dec 2020, 12% diocesan bishops are women; 30% suffragan bishops are women; 32% of archdeacons are women and 16% cathedral Deans are women.
  • Currently three diocese have no women among their (ex-officio) senior staff (senior staff defined as bishops, Dean and Archdeacons): Peterborough, Chester and Hereford. Hereford has recently appointed a woman to the role of Archdeacon of Ludlow. Sixteen dioceses have only one woman among senior staff.

A recent report exploring why women are under-represented in senior positions, analyses key reasons and suggest strategies and actions which could enable the Church of England to become more intentional about promoting diversity.
“Using the lens of women’s ordained ministry, how can we grow diversity within the strategic leadership of the Church so that all may flourish?”

Click here to see the above report.

This gendered pattern has not altered but it is still not recognised in press releases and official statements made by the Church of England reports. Until this pattern is acknowledged it will not be possible to plan strategically, and use money strategically, to start to remove this imbalance

  December 2019December 2020Notes
Diocesan bishopsfemale55Dec 2020 announcement that Bishop of Loughborough appointed to Chelmsford.
male3636
Suffragan bishopsfemale19204 vacancies. 2 men appointed.
male4846
Archdeaconsfemale32.538N/A
male8982
Cathedral deansfemale67N/A
male37.835

Table 5: Ages and Gender of ordinands starting training in 2019 and 2020

The number of female ordinands has increased slightly in recent years. However, what has not changed is the pattern of age and gender distribution of ordinands. The number of female ordinands under 40 decreased by two from 2019 to 2020, and the proportion of all female ordinands under 40 continues to be at 40% or under. If we look at the proportion of ordinands under 35, the “young” ordinands that the Church of England wants to encourage, the percentage of women is even lower: only 33% of all ordinands under 35 are women.
The link between gender and age is shown starkly in the table below which shows the division of the 2019 and 2020 cohorts of ordinands by age and gender:

This gendered pattern has not altered but it is still not recognised in press releases and official statements made by the Church of England reports. Until this pattern is acknowledged it will not be possible to plan strategically, and use money strategically, to start to remove this imbalance.

 Starting in 2019Starting in 2020
AgeFemaleMaleTotal FemaleMaleTotal
<25172441151631
25-29184159214970
30-34246084245074
35-39332962302555
40-44342761463682
45-49582482544195
50-54432265552681
55-59421759371754
60-642052524529
65 and over6410426
Total295253548310267577

Table 6: Modes of ordinand training (data from answer to Qu 4 November General Synod 2020)

Table 6 illustrates one result of this age imbalance. The Church of England gives a block grant to dioceses based on the number of ordinands it sponsors. This grant is weighted towards younger ordinands. Ordinands aged 32 or younger are given the highest grant, and from the age of 40, the block grant does not cover the cost of residential training. As can be seen from Table 6, nearly twice as many men as women train in a residential setting and nearly twice as many women as men train on a part- time course. Different people will benefit from different modes of training, but the current data strongly implies that the choices of all ordinands are closely linked to gender.

There are several other results of the age/gender imbalance of ordinands:

A higher proportion of women are ordained into SSM roles, as older ordinands will not normally be selected for stipendiary ministry.

The proportions of women and men in ordained ministry will remain weighted in favour of men. This will be even more noticeable among stipendiary clergy, the majority of whom will continue to be male.

Young ordinands training in residential institutions are likely to be in a group with a majority of men, and so they will continue to be formed in a culture that normalises clergy being male.

2019ResidentialMixed ModePart Time
FemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotal
Under 25141832358011
25-2910293971017123
30-34123648112031145
35-3991221218293912
40-445611121022171128
45-49941318624311445
50-5421312214291948
55-59303325361551
60-6400040416521
65+011011628
Total64107171916415514082222
Total Cohort: 548
2020ResidentialMixed ModePart Time
FemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotal
Under 25121527314000
25-2912304271724224
30-3411344591524415
35-39111324111122819
40-4411617201232151833
45-496511191130292554
50-5421312820411758
55-59202202331750
60-6410100023528
65+000000426
Total68104172837515815988247
Total Cohort: 577

Acknowledgements and Sources

Data in tables 1 – 3 based on the Report “Ministry Statistics 2019” published June 2020 and produced by Church of England Research and Statistics, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ It is available online using this link.

Table 4 is based on information published on diocesan and cathedral websites Dec 2020

Tables 5 and 6 based on data provided in response to Question 4, asked in General Synod Nov 2020

A Report on the Developments in Women’s Ministry in 2019

Introduction

2019 was the 25th anniversary of women being ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England. These ordinations were spread from March to July, and were celebrated in various ways throughout the year: some dioceses held services of celebration, many women celebrated in their own parishes or places of ministry, a service from the chapel of Lambeth Palace was broadcast by Radio 4 and the “class of ‘94” were invited to two garden parties at Lambeth Palace by the Archbishop.

We also noted that July 2019 was the 40th anniversary of the founding of MOW, and the 50th anniversary of women being licensed as Lay Readers (now Licensed Lay Ministers).

Seven more women were appointed as suffragan bishops out of eight appointments. None of the three diocesan appointments were women. By the end of 2019, 17 out of 63 suffragan bishops are women, whilst the number of diocesan bishops remains at five.

It continues to be vital for women to be represented in all forms of leadership in the Church of England, and this is of wider importance than just within the church. Research in the USA* discovered that experiencing the leadership of women religious leaders could close the self-esteem gap between men and women equivalent to a year of college education.

This finding would suggest that the self-esteem gap between men and women might be eliminated entirely in a world where women have female clergy at least “some of the time” in their formative years. It would boost self-esteem for women to levels equivalent with men (if not slightly higher) while not perceptively changing self-esteem for men one way or the other.
She Preached the Word p.131 Benjamin Knoll and Cammie Bolin OUP 2018

TABLE 1: Proportion of stipendiary incumbents/incumbent status clergy who are women

This table shows the proportion of stipendiary incumbent and incumbent status roles in each diocese.

In 2013 half of dioceses had 23% of parish clergy who were women; in 2018 the median figure was 27%

In 2013 only seven dioceses had 30% or more (stipendiary) parish clergy who were women

In 2018 14 dioceses had 30% or over parish clergy who were women (15 dioceses in 2017)

We note some dioceses with the lowest proportions of women continuing to increase this proportion (eg Chichester, London)

We note other dioceses with no significant change in the proportion of women eg Rochester, Chester

Ely continues to have the highest proportion of stipendiary women incumbents. It is one of the only dioceses with a conscious strategy to encourage and support women, particularly young women, in stipendiary ministry.

The proportion of incumbents/incumbent status who are women

%2013 2015 2017 2018 
40% and overEly41Ely43Ely41
Ely41
35%-39%Hereford
Ripon and Leeds
38
38
Liverpool
Truro
35
37
Liverpool
Salisbury
35
35
30%-34%St Edmundsbury
and Ipswich
Manchester
Peterborough
Southwell
31


30
30
30
Hereford
Truro
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell
St Edmundsbury
and Ipswich
Peterborough
Portsmouth
Gloucester
34
33
32
32
32
32


31
31
30
Hereford
Portsmouth
St Eds and Ipswich
Durham
Gloucester
Peterborough
Lincoln
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell
St Albans
Worcester
33
32
32
31
31
31
30
30
32
30
30
30
Hereford
Gloucester
Norwich
Peterboro’
Portsmouth
Truro
Coventry
Southwell
Durham
Manchester
Leeds
34
33
32
32
32
32
31
31
30
30
30
25%-29%Bath and Wells
Sheffield
Leicester
St Albans
Leeds
Salisbury
Chester
Derby
Gloucester
Liverpool
Portsmouth
29
29
28
28
26
26
25
25
28
25
25
Bath and Wells
Liverpool
Sheffield
St Albans
Durham
Leeds
Leicester
Lincoln
Worcester
Derby
Chester
Chelmsford
Norwich
Oxford
29
29
29
29
27
28
28
28
27
27
26
25
25
25
Bristol
Derby
Leeds
Leicester
Guildford
Sheffield
Bath and Wells
Norwich
Chelmsford
Chester
Coventry
Newcastle
Oxford
Southwark
Birmingham
28
28
28
28
26
28
27
27
26
26
26
26
26
26
25
Lincoln
Worcester
St Eds and Ipswich
Bath & Wells
Chelmsford
Newcastle
Oxford
Birmingham
Bristol
Canterbury
Derby
Guildford
Southwark
Chester
29
29
29
28
28
28
27
26
26
26
26
26
26
25
20%-24%Newcastle
Oxford
Birmingham
Chelmsford
Durham
Lincoln
Worcester
Guildford
Southwark
Truro
Exeter
Norwich
24
24
23
23
23
23
23
21
21
21
20
20
Guildford
Southwark
Newcastle
York
Birmingham
Canterbury
Coventry
Rochester
24
24
23
23
22
21
20
20
York
Sodor and Man
Canterbury
Lichfield
Winchester
24
24
22
22
20
Sheffield
York
Sodor and Man
Lichfield
Winchester
Carlisle
Rochester
24
24
23
22
21
21
20
15%-20%Carlisle
Coventry
Lichfield
Rochester
York
Sodor and Man*
Bristol
Canterbury
19
19
19
19
19
18
17
17
Bristol
Carlisle
Exeter
Lichfield
Sodor and Man*
Europe
Blackburn
Winchester
19
19
19
19
18
16
15
15
Exeter
Rochester
Carlisle
19
19
18
Exeter
London
Blackburn
Chichester
19
16
15
15
14% and underBlackburn
London
Bradford
Chichester
Wakefield
Winchester
Europe*
13
11
6
6
Chichester
London
10
12
Blackburn
London
Chichester
Channel islands
Europe
14
14
12
12
9
Europe
Channel Islands
14
14

TABLE 2:  Different roles within diocese

This table shows the proportion of stipendiary incumbent status clergy, the proportion of SSM clergy and the proportion of Area Deans who are women in each diocese.

NB Data for Stipendiary clergy and SSM clergy based on 2018 figures. Data for Area Deans updated to Dec 2019 (proportions for number of Area Deans are based on a small number of people so a change of one person can make a significant difference)

SSM data does not distinguish between SSM clergy who hold another job (often paid); and those who have significant parish responsibilities

There is no correlation between the proportions of incumbent status clergy who are women and the proportion of Area Deans. WATCH would be interested to hear of any dioceses who give conscious consideration to gender balance when making appointments to this role.

London is in the bottom grouping for both SSM clergy who are women and stipendiary incumbent status clergy who are women.

Women are more than half of all SSM clergy in 26 dioceses. This leads to a significant question about the value a diocese places on women’s ministry where women are a high proportion of SSM clergy but a low proportion of stipendiary clergy, eg:

  • Rochester: 20% stipendiary clergy are women; 78% SSM clergy are women
  • Channel Islands (not a diocese but data given separately): 14% stipendiary clergy are women and 67% SSM clergy
  • Winchester: 21% stipendiary clergy are women, 60% SSM clergy are women

The different categories of SSM are not collected centrally. Does your diocese know (and publish)  how many SSM clergy are in the different categories described above?

 Diocese% Age Stipendiary incumbent status who are women% SSM clergy who are women% Area Deans who are women
1Diocese of Bath and Wells285424
2Diocese of Birmingham265030
3Diocese of Blackburn154713
5Diocese of Bristol265743
6Diocese of Canterbury264320
7Diocese of Carlisle215720
8Diocese of Chelmsford285310
9Diocese of Chester255533
10Diocese of Chichester154029
11Diocese of Coventry315844
12Diocese of Derby264880
13Diocese of Durham305736
14Diocese of Ely414340
15Diocese of Exeter194636
16Diocese of Gloucester335033
17Diocese of Guildford265225
18Diocese of Hereford346515
19Diocese of Leicester334250
20Diocese of Lichfield225523
21Diocese of Lincoln295614
22Diocese of Liverpool355238
23Diocese of London163419
24Diocese of Manchester305430
25Diocese of Newcastle285636
26Diocese of Norwich325410
27Diocese of Oxford274624
28Diocese of Peterborough325541
29Diocese of Portsmouth326357
30Diocese of Rochester207829
31Diocese of St Albans284439
32Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich294940
33Diocese of Salisbury355828
34Diocese of Sheffield245530
35Diocese of Sodor and Man2333n/a
36Diocese of Southwark264636
37Diocese of Southwell314314
38Diocese of Truro32578
39Diocese of Winchester216027
40Diocese of Worcester295325
41Diocese of York245424
42Diocese of Leeds304750
43Diocese in Europe1426n/a
44Channel Islands1467n/a
Total2650

TABLE 3: Ordained women in senior leadership roles in diocese

By December 2019, 22 dioceses had at least one woman among their bishops. Only two dioceses had more than one woman among their bishops. Some 27% of suffragan bishops and 12.5% of diocesan bishops are women.

There are still 16 dioceses without women among their archdeacons, although at least three of these currently have a vacancy for an archdeacon. Five dioceses have no women at all among their  “ex officio” senior clergy: bishops, archdeacons and cathedral dean.

WATCH knows several dioceses find ways of ensuring that women’s voices are heard in senior staff meetings. Does your diocese have a means of ensuring that women’s voices (not a single woman’s) are heard when making decisions at a senior level?

 FemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMale
Diocese of Bath and Wells01101201
Diocese of Birmingham01101101
Diocese of Blackburn01110101
Diocese of Bristol10010201
Diocese of Canterbury0113*1201
Diocese of Carlisle01100301
Diocese of Chelmsford01033401
Diocese of Chester00010201
Diocese of Chichester01011301
Diocese of Coventry01011101
Diocese of Derby10101101
Diocese of Durham01100201
Diocese of Ely01100201
Diocese of Exeter01110401
Diocese of Gloucester10011101
Diocese of Guildford01100210
Diocese of Hereford00010101
Diocese of Leicester01101101
Diocese of Lichfield01121301
Diocese of Lincoln01021210
Diocese of Liverpool01101010
Diocese of London1015*2101
Diocese of Manchester01022101
Diocese of Newcastle10010201
Diocese of Norwich01021210
Diocese of Oxford01121201
Diocese of Peterborough01020201
Diocese of Portsmouth01000201
Diocese of Rochester01011201
Diocese of St Albans01021201
Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich01013101
Diocese of Salisbury01112201
Diocese of Sheffield01100201
Diocese of Sodor and Man01000101
Diocese of Southwark01023701
Diocese of Southwell01010210
Diocese of Truro01011101
Diocese of Winchester01110210
Diocese of Worcester01011101
Diocese of York0113*1101
Diocese of Leeds01141103
Diocese of Europe010114n/an/a
Total53517393377637

TABLE 4:  Age and gender of ordinands beginning training 2017 and 2018

The Church of England wishes to increase the proportion of women among younger individuals who train for ordination.

2018 data show an increase in this group, but still only 41% of the ordinands under 40 were women. The younger the cohort of ordinands, the smaller the proportion of women it contains. From the age of 45, the number (and proportion) of women ordinands equals and then overtakes that of men.

One implication of this continuing imbalance is that the proportion of women and men in licensed ordained ministry will be very slow to reach a gender balance, if it does so at all.

2018 is the first year when numbers of men and women training with the intention of stipendiary ministry were nearly the same, as were the numbers of those training with the intention of being an incumbent. We hope to see a similar pattern in future years.

However, no table is published which links age, gender and expected future role. This is an important link to investigate, as both the data we currently have, and anecdotal evidence, show women are being selected for training later in life than men, and more are selected for SSM and assistant roles. It seems unlikely that fewer women are of the calibre to be incumbents, and so this continuing correlation should be investigated further. See tables in Statistics for Ministry for more information.

Ordinands starting 2018Starting in 2017Starting in 2018
AgeFemaleMale% FemaleFemaleMale% Female
<2514190.4210250.29
25-2917560.2338530.42
30-3425450.3628400.41
35-3923340.428310.47
40-4441290.5935210.62
45-4942230.6462350.64
50-5450280.6451250.67
55-5933250.5738210.64
60-6416100.6221110.65
65-69520.71830.73
70+00n/a00n/a
Total2662710.493192650.55

Other authorised ministries

Church Army Officers are trained as evangelists, often working in areas of social deprivation or on the margins where church and society meet. Women have been trained as CA evangelists along with men for nearly 100 years. Today some are ordained while others remain lay. In 2018, 31% of all CA evangelists were female.

Numbers of Active CA evangelists of stipendiary age at the end of 2018
FemaleMale % Female
Lay 52950.35
Ordained22720.23

Readers/LLMs. The majority of Readers/LLMs are licensed after the age of 40. In this, they follow the pattern of ordained women. It is noticeable that between the ages of 40 and 70, the proportion of women LLMs is higher than that of men – a pattern similar to that of female SSMs.

The total number of LLMs/Readers in training at the end of 2018 (age not included in data)
AgeFemale MaleTotal % Female 
Under 404040800.5
40-59105072017700.59
60-691550129028400.55
70+1401502900.48

Note that the proportions of men and women are very similar to the proportions of women and men SSM

Female% FemaleMale% Male
44064%24036%

A Report on the Developments in Women’s Ministry in 2018

In 2019 it will be:

  • 50 years since women were first licensed as Lay Readers
  • 25 years since women in the Church of England were first ordained priests
  • 5 years since legislation was passed to enable women to be appointed bishops

In 2018

  • The Rt Rev Sarah Mullaly was translated from the See of Crediton to become Bishop of London (May 12) and the Very Rev Viv Faull was consecrated on July 3rd, and installed as Bishop of Bristol on Oct 20th. Now 4 diocesan bishops (out of a total of 44) are women. In December 2018 it was announced that Rt Rev Libby Lane has been appointed the (diocesan) Bishop of Derby.
  • Women were appointed to four more suffragan sees during 2018, so at the end of 2018 12 suffragan sees were filled by women (from a total of 69 sees).
  • The appointment of two more women to suffragan sees in 2019 has been announced.

Ordained ministry is not the only way that anyone, male or female, serves the church. Most of those who offer ministries of many kinds are not counted in any way. However, WATCH considers that it is valuable to get an overview of those who have particular responsibilities in diocese and the national church, and this year we would like to draw attention to The Church Commissioners.

This group is rarely noticed publicly, but the skills and decisions of its members are vital to the funding of nearly all that the Church of England is able to do. Some are elected by General Synod, some are appointed by the Archbishop or the Crown.

Currently, the three most senior Church Commissioners are women:

  • Ms Loretta Minghella is the First Estates Commissioner since the end of 2017
  • The Rt Hon Caroline Spelman is the Second Estates Commissioner (from the end of 2017),
    being a link between the C of E and the House of Commons
  • Dr Eve Poole is the Third Estates Commissioner.

Ordinands

Statistics provided by the Church of England show an increase in the number of ordinands this year, including an increase in female ordinands. However, the significant imbalance between young male and female ordinands continues. In 2017, of those under 40 who began training, 160 were male and 90 were female.

Proportion of incumbents/incumbent status who are women 2013 2015 2017
40% and overEly41Ely43Ely41
35%-39%Hereford
Ripon and Leeds
38
38
Liverpool
Truro
35
37
30%-34%St Edmundsbury
and Ipswich
Manchester
Peterborough
Southwell
31


30
30
30
Hereford
Truro
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell
St Edmundsbury
and Ipswich
Peterborough
Portsmouth
Gloucester
34
33
32
32
32
32


31
31
30
Hereford
Portsmouth
St Eds and Ipswich
Durham
Gloucester
Peterborough
Lincoln
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell
St Albans
Worcester
33
32
32
31
31
31
30
30
32
30
30
30
25%-29%Bath and Wells
Sheffield
Leicester
St Albans
Leeds
Salisbury
Chester
Derby
Gloucester
Liverpool
Portsmouth
29
29
28
28
26
26
25
25
28
25
25
Bath and Wells
Liverpool
Sheffield
St Albans
Durham
Leeds
Leicester
Lincoln
Worcester
Derby
Chester
Chelmsford
Norwich
Oxford
29
29
29
29
27
28
28
28
27
27
26
25
25
25
Bristol
Derby
Leeds
Leicester
Guildford
Sheffield
Bath and Wells
Norwich
Chelmsford
Chester
Coventry
Newcastle
Oxford
Southwark
Birmingham
28
28
28
28
26
28
27
27
26
26
26
26
26
26
25
20%-24%Newcastle
Oxford
Birmingham
Chelmsford
Durham
Lincoln
Worcester
Guildford
Southwark
Truro
Exeter
Norwich
24
24
23
23
23
23
23
21
21
21
20
20
Guildford
Southwark
Newcastle
York
Birmingham
Canterbury
Coventry
Rochester
24
24
23
23
22
21
20
20
York
Sodor and Man
Canterbury
Lichfield
Winchester
24
24
22
22
20
15%-20%Carlisle
Coventry
Lichfield
Rochester
York
Sodor and Man*
Bristol
Canterbury
19
19
19
19
19
18
17
17
Bristol
Carlisle
Exeter
Lichfield
Sodor and Man*
Europe
Blackburn
Winchester
19
19
19
19
18
16
15
15
Exeter
Rochester
Carlisle
19
19
18
14% and underBlackburn
London
Bradford
Chichester
Wakefield
Winchester
Europe*
13
11
6
6
Chichester
London
10
12
Blackburn
London
Chichester
Channel islands
Europe
14
14
12
12
9

Table 2

In this table we try to give an overview of the extent to which women are visible and involved in a diocese.

  • Column 1 Gives the proportion of stipendiary incumbents/incumbent status clergy who are women.
  • Column 2 Proportion for SSM clergy. It does not distinguish between those SSM clergy who are running parishes (as House for Duty, covering vacancies etc, and those who are SSM but have a paid secular, or church, job).
  • Column 3 Gives the proportion of area deans in the diocese who are women – it is worth looking at your diocese to see if this number reflects the number of women clergy.
  • The data for columns 1 and 2 is taken from Church House statistics based on 2017 data. Area Deans data has been updated and based on publicly available data in Dec 2018.

NB Proportions of clergy is not the same as actual numbers of clergy.

Diocese in rank order for proportion of women stipendiary incumbents
 Diocese% Age Stipendairy
incombent status
who are women
% SSM Clergy
who are women
% Area Deans
who are women
1Diocese of Bath and Wells275726
2Diocese of Birmingham255221
3Diocese of Blackburn144923
5Diocese of Bristol285614
6Diocese of Canterbury225210
7Diocese of Carlisle185718
8Diocese of Chelmsford265319
9Diocese of Chester265739
10Diocese of Chichester124229
11Diocese of Coventry265750
12Diocese of Derby284756
13Diocese of Durham315936
14Diocese of Ely414736
15Diocese of Exeter194840
16Diocese of Gloucester314944
17Diocese of Guildford265425
18Diocese of Hereford33647
19Diocese of Leicester284260
20Diocese of Lichfield225623
21Diocese of Lincoln305316
22Diocese of Liverpool355325
23Diocese of London143216
24Diocese of Manchester305625
25Diocese of Newcastle276342
26Diocese of Norwich28564
27Diocese of Oxford264620
28Diocese of Peterborough315025
29Diocese of Portsmouth306257
30Diocese of Rochester196931
31Diocese of St Albans304931
32Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich325150
33Diocese of Salisbury335717
34Diocese of Sheffield284717
35Diocese of Sodor and Man1433n/a
36Diocese of Southwark264633
37Diocese of Southwell305014
38Diocese of Truro376333
39Diocese of Winchester206042
40Diocese of Worcester305823
41Diocese of York245426
42Diocese of Leeds284748
43Diocese in Europe922
44Channel Islands1262
Total5129

Table 3

This table compares numbers of senior women clergy in diocese. It splits the data into those who normally relate to parishes and the whole diocese (archdeacons and bishops) and those whose ministry is cathedral based (Deans and residential canons). These senior clergy will be involved in strategic planning and decisions in a diocese, and it is known that the more varied a group is, the more likely it is to make better decisions. Visibility and role models are also significant issues. For example, do visitors see a ministry that includes men and women if they visit a cathedral?

Senior roles in diocese 2018Bishops (D) Bishops (S) Archdeacons Cathedrals Deans and Residential Canons 
Diocesefemalemalefemalemalefemalemalefemalemale
Diocese of Bath and Wells01101203
Diocese of Birmingham01100203
Diocese of Blackburn01110202
Diocese of Bristol10010212
Diocese of Canterbury01041113
Diocese of Carlisle01000312
Diocese of Chelmsford01033303
Diocese of Chester0111020.92
Diocese of Chichester01021203
Diocese of Coventry01011112
Diocese of Derby00101112
Diocese of Durham01010312
Diocese of Ely01000222
Diocese of Exeter01110301
Diocese of Gloucester10011112
Diocese of Guildford01100222
Diocese of Hereford01010203
Diocese of Leicester01101212
Diocese of Lichfield01021312
Diocese of Lincoln01021212
Diocese of Liverpool01101303
Diocese of London10052435
Diocese of Manchester01023112
Diocese of Newcastle10010213
Diocese of Norwich01021214
Diocese of Oxford01032201
Diocese of Peterborough01010200
Diocese of Portsmouth01001212
Diocese of Rochester01011212
Diocese of St Albans01021213
Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich01010212
Diocese of Salisbury01102203.6
Diocese of Sheffield01010203
Diocese of Sodor and Man01000115
Diocese of Southwark0103243.52
Diocese of Southwell01011121
Diocese of Truro01011103
Diocese of Winchester01020222
Diocese of Worcester0101110.53
Diocese of York01142123
Diocese of Leeds01141335.5
Diocese of Europe01011400
Total43412573587

Laywomen and others

This annual report tries to give an overview of the ministry of women in the church. This year we also recognise that WATCH is Women in the church not “ordained women in the church” and try to include a few of the ways lay women also are playing a significant role in the C of E .

Authorised Readers (LLMs)

The age and gender pattern among licensed Readers is very similar to the pattern seen among clergy, particularly SSM clergy. In the youngest age group (under 40), which is also the group with the smallest numbers, men outnumber women. In all other age groups, women outnumber men. The pattern of local parish ministry is that of volunteers maintaining local ministry, and a majority being women over 40.

  Age 40 yrs oldAge 40-59Age 60- 69Age 70 and over
Readersmale70830128020
female501150166020
Readers in trainingmale201209010
female3021015020
Permission to officiatemale1790
female1530

Diocesan Secretaries

They are a key role in any diocese. At the end of 2018, 13 Diocesan Secretaries were women and 24 were men (some dioceses have vacancies).

Chairs of Diocesan Synods

The gender balance of Chairs of the Houses of Clergy is evenly split: 21 are men and 21 are women. The Houses of Laity have elected 13 women and 28 men to this role.

Acknowledgements and sources of data

We would like to acknowledge the work done by the research and statistics department of Church House. 

Figures of ordained clergy and LLMs, and information on ages and gender of ordinands, are taken from data published by the Church of England in August 2018 (referring to data from 2017).

Church of England Research and Statistics, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ.

Information on senior clergy taken from Ministry Statistics for 2017 but updated where possible from diocesan websites Dec 2018.

Area Deans taken from Crockfords online and Diocesan websites.

 

A Report on the Developments in Women’s Ministry in 2015

Women in the Episcopate

Diocesan Bishops (updated May 2018):

Sarah Mullaly – London

Rachel Treweek – Gloucester

Christine Hardman – Newcastle

Vivienne Fall – Bristol (announced 15/05/18)

There are 42 Diocesan Bishops in total.

Both Bishop Rachel and Bishop Christine have become members of the House of Lords by virtue of the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015.

Suffragan Bishops:

Jill Duff – Lancaster, Blackburn (Bishop Designate)

Guli Francis-Dehqani – Loughborough, Leicester

Karen Gorham – Sherborne, Salisbury

Helen-Ann Hartley – Ripon, Leeds

Anne Hollinghurst – Aston, Birmingham

Emma Ineson – Penrith, Carlisle (Bishop Designate)

Libby Lane  – Stockport, Chester

Jan McFarlane – Repton, Derby

Jo Wells – Dorking, Guildford

Alison White – Hull, York

Ruth Worsley – Taunton, Bath & Wells

There are a total of 75 Suffragan or Area Bishops.

WATCH is delighted that so many women have been appointed as bishops in such a short space of time. The consecration services were occasions of great rejoicing, celebrated by the wider world as well as the church.

Such appointments have already become a normal part of life in the Church of England. As the spotlight moves on to other issues we hope that this momentum will be sustained, particularly in relation to the appointment of Diocesan bishops.

Participant Observers

Under existing arrangements, eight ‘participant observers’ elected by senior women in each region will continue to take part in meetings of the House of Bishops. (In the South East region Rosemary Lane-Priestley has recently been elected to replace Rachel Treweek, who is now there in her own right.)

Women Clergy & Readers

The Ministry Division of the Church of England has been revising the way it keeps its statistics on ordained ministry in the Church of England. Database problems are still being resolved.

The most recent figures from 2012 showed that women accounted for:

  • 23% of full-time parochial clergy
  • 11% of senior clergy
  • 16% of incumbents
  • 23% of salaried chaplains
  • 49% of part time stipendiary clergy
  • 50% of self supporting clergy
  • 52% of Readers

Clergy – Diocesan | Total | Women | Men

Full time stipendiary 7578 | 1747 (23.1%) | 5831 (76.9%)

Part time stipendiary  429 | 209 (48.7%)  | 220 (51.3%)

Self supporting  2941 | 1480 (50.3%) | 1461 (49.7%)

Clergy – Salaried Chaplains  1018 | 241 (23.7%) | 777 (76.3%)

Out of the total of 3677 ordained women:

  • 47.5% were in full time stipendiary posts
  • 5.7% were in part time stipendiary posts
  • 40.2% were in self supporting posts
  • 6.6% were in salaried chaplaincy posts

Readers | 5373 | 2800 (52.1%) | 2573 (47.9%)

2012 – Parishes formally not accepting the ordained ministry of women:

Out of a total of 12,953 parishes:

  • Resolution A742(5.7%)
  • Resolution B  907 (7.0%)
  • Extended episcopal ministry   368 (2.8%)

Source

WATCH has asked (and will continue to ask) Ministry Division to provide up to date statistics so that we can monitor and analyse developments from the 2012 baseline.

The House of Bishops’  Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests

Developments this year:

a) General impact

All ordinands and clergy moving to new posts are now asked to assent to ‘five guiding principles’ outlined in the House of Bishops Declaration.

b) ‘Gracious restraint’

It has become customary at consecrations this year for some bishops not to lay hands on the person being consecrated. Excerpts from the Archbishop of York’s letter to the northern bishops before the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley:

‘The arrangements … are not binding on the Archbishop now or in the future. However, in seeking to build a future based on trust, mutual respect and the highest degree of communion possible, it is hoped that these arrangements will begin to shape good practice and custom.

The Archbishop will delegate to another bishop the authority to celebrate the Liturgy of Ordination and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. That bishop will exemplify commitment to the Five Guiding Principles and the flourishing of those whom the candidate for consecration will be able to serve sacramentally and with similar commitment to the whole of the House of Bishops’ Declaration.

When the bishops gather together for the Ordination Prayer, in close proximity around the candidate, the Archbishop will lead all other bishops present in exercising gracious restraint at the laying-on of hands, permitting two bishops, nominated by the Archbishop … to assist in the laying-on of hands, in order to fulfil the requirements of canon C2.1. All other Bishops will remain in the arc around the candidate.’

c) Provision for conservative evangelical parishes

Supplementing the existing arrangements for traditionalist Catholics, the Bishop of Maidstone was consecrated in 2015 to minister in conservative evangelical parishes that have passed the required resolution. The Bishop of Maidstone also has ‘participant observer’ status in the House of Bishops.

d) The work of the Independent Reviewer

As far as we know, only two formal complaints have been raised with the Independent Reviewer this year, one by WATCH and one by Forward in Faith:

  • WATCH objected to the provision of separate chrism masses by bishops belonging to the Society of St Hilda & St Bede, asking whether they honoured the five principles and the call to promote mutual flourishing. The Independent Reviewer did not accept our concerns, concluding:

‘I understand the concern expressed by Ms Cotton on behalf of WATCH that the chrism masses organised by bishops who are members of the Society of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda emphasise the continuing division within the Church of England on the subject of the ordination of women and are hurtful to women clergy and their male supporters. However I do not find that these masses are, in themselves, a breach of the principles set out in the House of Bishops’ Declaration. Rather they are a consequence of the underlying division and of the pastoral arrangements the Church has thought it right to make for those who hold the minority view. Provided the masses continue themselves to be conducted within the spirit of the Five Principles, with due sensitivity to the feeling of others, and with full regard to the lawful authority of the relevant diocesan bishop (whether male or female), they will continue to be consistent with the House of Bishops’ Declaration.’

  • Forward in Faith objected to the licensing of two women to ‘the North Cheltenham Team’ when the Team Benefice included a church whose PCC had previously passed a resolution. The Independent Reviewer upheld the complaint, noting:

‘ in failing to spell out the precise scope of Mrs Smith’s intended ministry as an Associate Priest in the Benefice of North Cheltenham, Bishop Martyn failed to make the appropriate pastoral and sacramental provision for the Parish of All Saints, which it was entitled to expect under the House of Bishops’ Declaration.’

  • The Independent Reviewer also recommended:

‘Where it is the intention to appoint a woman to minister otherwise than as a member of the team in a multi-parish benefice in which one or more parishes has, or is deemed to have, passed the resolution set out in paragraph 20 of the House of Bishops’ Declaration:

(a) the PCCs of the parishes in the benefice should be consulted, before a licence is issued, about the nature and extent of the ministry she is to be licensed to exercise; and

(b) the licence which is then issued to her should specify the nature and extent of the ministry she is authorised to undertake in the parish or parishes which have passed the resolution (as well as in the other parishes of the benefice).’

Towards the end of 2015 the Independent Reviewer invited WATCH to comment on the notes he had drawn up concerning the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure.

In response WATCH raised concerns about the inbuilt gender bias of the church; the focus on those who oppose women’s ministry; the lack of a reference group from the House of Bishops that included supporters of women’s ministry as well as dissenters; the scope and status of his recommendations; some of the terminology in his reports; the availability of legal resources for all; and the importance of trust rather than law.

The work of WATCH in 2015

Liberated from working on the legislation for women in the episcopate, WATCH has relished the opportunity to return to its core task of working more generally for gender justice, equality and inclusion in the Church of England:

  • The first ‘Laity Day’ took place in Birmingham, run for and by lay woman to celebrate and reflect on their contribution to the mission and ministry of the church. More Laity Days will take place around the country in 2016.
  • We have been drafting a Gender Justice Policy and will campaign for it to be adopted and implemented in every area of the Church of England’s life.
  • Our General Synod Task Force continues to represent women’s interests in Synod debates and committees
  • We are continuing to monitor the challenges that still exist in relation to the ministry of women (lay and ordained) in the church
  • We have breathed new life into the debate about gender inclusive language in the church
  • We are continuing to compile a range of gender inclusive theological and liturgical resources that are freely available here on our website.

The work of the Transformations Group

In 2011 Archbishop Rowan Williams convened a ‘Transformations’ conference at Lambeth Palace to explore the lived experience of women in ordained ministry 17 years after the first women were ordained as priests in the Church of England. The conference report was presented to the College of Bishops a year later. Since then the Steering Group for that conference (made up of representatives from WATCH, DARC, NADAWM, AWESOME & CMEAC) has continued to steer the Transformations agenda, commissioning research and raising the profile of issues surrounding women’s ordained ministry.

The Transformations Research and Implementation Group has identified five key areas for gender-related research:

  • Young vocations
  • Self-supporting ministry
  • Larger churches
  • Senior posts
  • Flexible working practices

The work is currently focusing on two of these areas: young vocations and larger churches. Using a range of methods, including statistical analysis, participatory group discussions and semi-structured interviews, the research seeks to answer the following two fundamental questions:

  • While overall rates of ordination are roughly equally split between men and women, why are fewer than a quarter of those seeking ordination under the age of thirty female?
  • Why are fewer than 2% of leaders of larger churches female?

For more information:

Transformations on the Church of England website

Research on gender and ministry on the Ministry Division website