Oxford Synod Overwhelmingly Supports Women in the Episcopate

During an otherwise lacklustre Westminster Hall debate on 20 March on Women’s Contribution to the Ordained Ministry (Church of England) the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the right hon. Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry), stated that

“the diocese of Oxford has always had a strong record of ordaining women, starting with 67 women who were ordained in six separate services in 1994. Of those 67 women who were ordained priests in Oxford 20 years ago, nine are still in active ministry in the diocese and many more, although formally retired, still hold permission to preach and are continuing to support parishes.

Among those first women priests still working full time in the diocese of Oxford, we have a school chaplain, an area dean, who has just been appointed our newest archdeacon, a university college chaplain, and priests in rural and urban parishes. Of the four archdeacons in the diocese of Oxford, three are women, and the diocese has seen women ordained in every sphere of ministry. There are ordained women on the staff of all three theological colleges in the diocese. The military bases in the diocese have had women chaplains, as have prisons and detention centres.

From those first 67 women ordained 20 years ago, there are now more than 250 ordained women currently ministering in the diocese of Oxford, and I am glad to say that many more are coming forward to offer themselves for priestly ministry. Every diocese could tell a similar story of the achievement of women over the past 20 years in ordained ministry. It is appropriate to reflect not only on the significant quantitative contribution over the past 20 years that women have made to ordained ministry, but on the qualitative contributions that women in ordained ministry have made to the life and work of the Church”, [HL Hansard 20 Mar 2014 : Vol 577 Col 377WH]

It was perhaps fitting, therefore, that Sir Tony was present at this morning’s Oxford Synod which voted overwhelming in support of women in the episcopate,
















In the preceding discussion, the majority of speakers were supportive of the motion, including Dr Philip Giddings, Chair of the House of Laity, General Synod, who had been a prominent opponent in 2012.  One speaker expressed a degree of concern at the replacement of “legislation” in the form of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 by the House of Bishops’ Declaration; however, in terms of their legal effect, this is the replacement of one quasi-legislative instrument with another.

David Pocklington