Ordination of Woman as Bishops

Bishop Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield Writes:

Dear Friends

In July [2014] the General Synod approved the Measure to enable women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England. At the same time the Synod approved some key principles to enable those who hold different views on these matters to live together within one Church and to work together in God’s mission.

The debate in July brings to an end a generation of debate on the ordination of women in the Church of England. The outcome will be a cause of great joy and celebration to many. To others it may bring some sadness. However I hope and trust that we will be able to move forward together in respect and trust and to be able to give greater attention now to other areas of God’s mission.

The provision for parishes unable to accept the ministry or leadership of ordained women is stronger than previous provision and intended to be for the long term. It is based on five key principles, outlined in the House of Bishops declaration on the ministry of Bishops and Priests:

• Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;

• Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;

• Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;

• Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and

• Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.

You can read the full text of the House of Bishops declaration on the Church of England website and the full text of my recent Presidential Address to the Diocesan Synod on these matters on the Diocesan website. We will be holding consultation meetings in the autumn for those who wish to take advantage of the new provision. There is no need to be hasty in passing the new PCC Resolution: parishes which already have resolutions A, B and C in place have over two years to make the transition to the new arrangements.

I hope and pray that our conversation on these matters within the Diocese will now enter a new phase of building trust, deepening partnership in the gospel and care and respect for one another into the future.

In the words of Paul’s letter to the Colossians:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against one another, forgive each other; just as the LORD has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”

+Steven Sheffield