February 26th, 2019

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.