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 Issues | Ministry | Woman Bishops

5. Synodical process

The Church of England General Synod decided in November 1992 to permit the ordination of women as Priests.  The legislation was subsequently passed by Parliament and enacted.

In July 2000 the General Synod passed the following motion:

That this Synod ask the House of Bishops to initiate further
theological study on the episcopate, focusing on the issues that
need to be addressed in preparation for the debate on women in the
episcopate in the Church of England, and to make a progress report
on this study to Synod in the next two years.

This led to the setting up of the Rochester Commission.

The Commission gave an interim report to General Synod.

The Commission completed its work and published its report in October 2004.

In February 2005 the General Synod devoted nearly 4 hours to two debates.

Women Bishops in the Church of England?: A Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women in the Episcopate (GS 1557)

Two motions were passed:

That this Synod do take note of the report.

‘That the Synod welcome the report from the House of Bishops (GS
1568) and invite the Business Committee to make sufficient time
available at the July group of sessions for Synod to determine whether it
wishes to set in train the process for removing the legal obstacles to the
ordination of women to the episcopate.’

In July 2005 the Synod are due to debate the following motion:

That this Synod

(a) consider that the process for removing the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate should now be set in train;

(b) invite the House of Bishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council, to complete by January 2006, and report to the Synod, the assessment which it is making of the various options for achieving this; and

(c) instruct the Business Committee to make sufficient time available in the February 2006 group of sessions for the Synod to debate the report, determine on what basis it wants the necessary legislation prepared and establish the necessary drafting group.

Bishops Letter to the Church of England Newspaper at eve of July 2005 General Synod raising concerns about making women bishops.

Future Process

If Synod passes the resolution in July 2005 the future timetable is likely to include:

Debate in Feb 2006 to consider what form legislation should take - in particular should there be provision for opponents.

Legislation drafting group set up.

General Approval Debate in General Synod.

A Revision Committee set-up.

Referral to the Dioceses (this is deemed Article 8 Business) which could take 12-18 months.

The House of Laity, or Convocations (Clergy) could ask for a debate amongst themselves.

Debate in General Synod on the report of the Revision Committee.

Possible further Revision Stage and Debate.

Final Approval by General Synod. This will require a 2/3rds majority in each of the three houses of Synod (Bishops, Clergy & Laity).


Consideration by the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament.

If 'deemed expedient'.

Debate in House of Commons and House of Lords.

Legislation will receive the Royal Assent.


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Development in the Anglican Communion

In the Second World War Florence Li Tim Oi was ordained on an emergency basis within the Anglican Church in Hong Kong.

In 1968 the Lambeth Conference hedged its bets on the issue but asked provinces not to act unilaterally.

In 1971 two women were ordained priest in Hong Kong.

In 1974 two women were illegally ordained in the United States.

The Episcopal Church of the USA voted in 1976 to allow female presbyters.

Women were ordained presbyter in Canada in 1976, New Zealand in 1977 and in Uganda and Kenya in 1983.

1989 Women were consecrated as Bishops in New Zealand and later in the United States.
Women were ordained in Australia in 1992 (but not in Sydney the largest Diocese).

Women were ordained in the Church of England in 1994.

The following provinces of the Communion do not presently permit women to be ordained as presbyters :

Central Africa, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Korea
Melanesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, Tanzania,
Diaconate only Indian Ocean, Southern Cone, Congo and Pakistan.

Only three provinces currently have women Bishops (New Zealand, Canada and the USA) but 11 others permit it in principle.

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6. Provision for Opponents

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Related Links
Consecration of Women Bishops
BulletNature and role of Bishops
BulletShould women be bishops?
BulletIssues to do with women bishops
BulletRochester Commission
BulletSynodical Process
BulletProvision for opponents

BulletSubmission 2009 (CS Council)
BulletSubmission 2009 (CS Trust)
BulletJoint Submission 2007
BulletJoint evangelical submission
BulletOpen letter to Bishops
BulletRochester Submission
BulletSubmission to Guilford Group
BulletPetition to Guildford Group
BulletSynod Briefing July 2006


Ministry Pages
BulletLay Office Holders
BulletClergy Discipline
BulletFalse Teachng
BulletClergy Terms of Service

Ministry - Other Sub Issues
BulletWomen Priests
BulletSenior Appointments

Other Issues
BulletLocal Church
BulletNational Church
BulletGeneral Synod
BulletAnglican Communion
BulletOther Faiths

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