Synod approves women in the episcopate:

Today the General Synod of the Church of England debated the four legislative measures required to secure the appointment of women to the episcopate:

Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B) – Draft Measure for Final Approval

Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B) – Draft Amending Canon for Final Approval

Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) – Draft Petition for Adoption

Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993(GS 1934A) – Draft Act of Synod for i] Final Approval and ii] Affirmation and Proclamation as an Act of Synod

The debates, chaired by the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, commenced at 11:15 and culminated in a vote at a little before 16:30 after a closing speech by the Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, who also opened the debate.

Commending the motion, Bishop Langstaff reminded Synod of the necessity of achieving a two-thirds majority in  each of the three houses: bishops, clergy and laity. Although anxious to commence voting, Dr Sentamu first led Synod in a moment of silent reflection. General Synod voted as follows:

1. On the motion

That the Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” be finally approved”, [GS 1925B]

Carried in all three houses with the necessary two-thirds majority:

Bishops: 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 abstention.

Clergy: 162 in favour, 25 against, 4 abstentions

Laity: 152 in favour, against 45, 5 abstentions

2. On the motion

That the Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 33” be finally approved”, [GS 1926B]

Carried in all three houses with the necessary two-thirds majority

Bishops: 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention

Clergy 164 in favour, 24 against, 3 recorded abstentions

Laity 153 in favour, 40 against, 8 recorded abstentions

3. The motion

That the petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) be adopted

was carried on a show of hands.

4. The motion

“That the draft Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be approved,” [GS 1934A]

was carried on a show of hands.

5.  The motion

That the Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be solemnly affirmed and proclaimed an Act of Synod

was carried on a show of hands.

The Church of England has issued a Press Release giving details of the voting. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is quoted as saying:

“Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.

The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds. Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another. As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.

My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.”

and the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, commented:

“This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them.

To those who ask “what took you so long?” my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision. Our answer to the hurting should not be “get over it” but rather “we will not let go until you have blessed us.”

We move slowly because we move together. But in moving together we achieve not only what is just but also model what is right. As the African Proverb says: “Whoever walks fast, travels alone. Whoever walks far, walks in the company of others.”

The Press Release explains:

“the legislation approved today includes a House of Bishops declaration, underpinned by five guiding principles and a disputes resolution procedure. Following the vote on the measure which enables women to become Bishops, the Synod voted on enabling legislation (Canon) and also rescinded existing legislation (Act of Synod) as part of a package of measures being proposed.

Following today’s vote the measure moves to the Legislative Committee of General Synod and then to the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament where the legislation will be considered. Subject to Parliamentary approval the measure will return to the General Synod in November of this year where it will come into force after its promulgation (legal formal announcement).

Today’s vote follows a process which began at the 2013 July Synod  which created a steering committee on women bishops, chaired by the Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff, with a mandate to draw up a package of new proposals. Bishop James opened the debate on behalf of the steering committee and responded to the debate urging synod members to vote for the proposals.”

In addition to the papers debated, the Press Release includes linked to: Bishop of Rochester’s speech on women bishops; House of Bishops Declaration on women bishops; and House of Bishops Guidance Notes on women bishops.

Whilst the Press Release is available here, its links to various documents referred to have not been updated following the revision of the Church’s web site. However, the documents may be accessed with the following links:

This post was updated,5 October 2018. 

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Synod approves women in the episcopate:" in Law & Religion UK, 14 July 2014,

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  1. Pingback: Women in the episcopate: legislation and its adoption | Law & Religion UK

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