Bishops in the Church of England

Following the vote this afternoon at General Synod, the Church of England released the following announcement:

“Legislation on Women Bishops Becomes Law at General Synod

17 November 2014

The General Synod has today enacted the measure enabling women to be ordained as Bishops in the Church of England.

The formal enactment of the legislation – Amending Canon 33 –  followed the vote on final approval by the Synod at its meeting in July of this year. Since that time the legislation has been approved in Parliament and received Royal Assent.

The final legislative requirements took place during a session chaired by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, on the first day of the Synod’s meeting in London.

With the Instrument of Enactment having been read to Synod the motion was put without debate, with only a simple majority required for approval. Following the item being passed the legislation was signed into law by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York before the whole Synod.

Following the vote Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said:

“Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together.  We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree.”



The text of the amending canon and instrument of enactment can be seen here:

The following dioceses are currently vacant and are waiting to appoint a diocesan bishop:

  • Southwell & Nottingham
  • Gloucester
  • Oxford
  • Newcastle

The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich were the last diocese to select a Bishop under the former rules.

The following suffragan (assistant) bishop posts are currently Vacant and are awaiting appointment:

  • Dunwich
  • Hertford
  • Hull
  • Plymouth
  • Stockport
  • Any of the above vacant posts may now be filled by a male or female priest.”


The procedure for appointing bishops was detailed in Peter Owen’s guest post, Choosing diocesan bishops in the Church of England.  With regard to the appointment of the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, see the comment of Will Adam on the timing of the relevant meetings, below.

For the appointment of the Bishop St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the second CNC meeting was scheduled for 15/16 October.  Peter Owen states that the public announcement of an episcopal appointment is made typically four to eight weeks after the CNC’s second meeting.  An announcement would therefore be expected in the next four weeks. Christian Today notes that among the four men shortlisted for the second meetings was Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, [see Postscript, below]

The Church Times reports that after today’s Synod vote, the Archbishop of Canterbury said “[t]he Archbishops have just one vote out of 14 [on the Crown Nominations Committee] and our ability to control or prevent appointments is very limited. I know there are some very good people, and we hope that some will also find their way on to the bishops’ bench . . . .We are working very hard on the training and development of people, men and women, for senior positions in the Church.” He added that with the expected rate of retirement of bishops,”women could make up half the College of Bishops within ten to 15 years”.

Thinking Anglicans has posted a helpful series of links to early media comment.


On 18 November, it was announced that the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, 67, would retire on 11 July 2015; and the Rt Rev Humphrey Southern, suffragan Bishop of Repton in the Diocese of Derby, 54, had been appointed as principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon with effect from 1 April 2015.

On 20 November, a Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office announced that the Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Martin Alan Seeley for election as Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich.


Suggested citation: David Pocklington: ‘Bishops in the Church of England’ (Law & Religion UK 17 November 2014) (available at

3 thoughts on “Bishops in the Church of England

  1. It is interesting that Southwell and Nottingham is included. The first meeting of the CNC was on 3 November, i.e. BEFORE the legislation came into force. However, the second meeting is not until after (when candidates are called to interview). The diocesan website states that the first meeting was, however, after the parliamentary stages of the legislation had been completed.

  2. The final parliamentary consideration of the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure took place on the late afternoon of 20 October, when the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, (Banbury, Con), proposed the motion

    “That the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (HC 621), passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for her Royal Assent in the form in which it was laid before Parliament,”[HC Hansard, 20 Oct 2014 Vol 586(45) Col 706].

    The motion was passed after a short debate. The two meetings of the Crown Nominations Committee to discuss the See of Southwell & Nottingham were scheduled for 3 November and 2-3 December 2014, respectively. The public announcement of the appointment is therefore likely to be between early-/mid-January and February 2015.

  3. Pingback: Law & Religion 2014 and 2015: retrospect and prospect – Part I | Law & Religion UK

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