07 February 2013
The House of Bishops of the Church of England has today
expressed its encouragement and support for new robust processes
and steps in bringing forward to General Synod the necessary
legislation to consecrate women to the episcopate.
At a special meeting at Lambeth Palace today, the House reviewed
the progress to develop proposals to enable women to become bishops
at the earliest possible date. The meeting also considered changes
to future meetings so as to ensure that eight senior women clergy
will be participants in all meetings of the House and its standing
The House was briefed on the two meetings held in January by the
working group under the chairmanship of the Bishop of St
Edmundsbury and Ipswich. All 10 of the members of the working group
attended the House of Bishops meeting. The House also
received an account of the intensive, facilitated conversations
held by the group with 15 others from a wide range of viewpoints on
Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
The House was encouraged to hear of the constructive manner in
which everyone had joined together in the search for a way forward.
It agreed that the working group should shortly issue a
consultation document that would give an outline of the discussions
of the past weeks, set out some emerging ideas and provide General
Synod members with an opportunity to have an input into that
conversation prior to the working group meeting again on 4
The House affirmed the nature of the facilitation process and
encouraged opportunities which may be available to extend this
process further at a diocesan and regional level. There was also
support for the facilitation process to continue in parallel with
the fresh proposals that will be brought to General Synod in
Following the discussion with the working group, the House went
on to consider issues arising from its current all male membership.
It decided that until such time as there are six female members of
the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a
number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend
and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers. The
intention is that eight members would be elected regionally from
within bishops' senior staff teams (that include deans, archdeacons
and others). The necessary change to the House's Standing Orders
will be made in May.
In addition, the House agreed to a special meeting on 19
September when the College of Bishops and a group of senior female
clergy will meet to take forward the range of cultural and
practical issues about gender and ministry in the Church of England
arising from the 'Transformations' initiative that was launched at
Lambeth in September 2011.
The facilitation process referred to was set out in PR160.12 on
11 December 2012
Membership of the working group was set out in PR169.12 on 19