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Mutual Flourishing? Do the Number of Senior Appointments Support the Five Guiding Principles?

Church Society has highlighted the question regarding the seriousness of the Church of England’s hierarchy about its implementation of Five Guiding Principles that were published in 2014.

The Five Guiding Principles were written after the C of E changed canon law to permit the consecration of women to the office of Bishop.  They must be assented to by all ordinands. They specifically call for all to mutually flourish with their own convictions regarding the ministry of female clergy.  

The numerical breakdown of senior appointments since 2014 was brought to the fore in a Church Society newsletter which reproduced figures from the report issued in June by the Church of England’s Implementation and Dialogue Group.  The numbers demonstrate that reality does not reflect the stated intention of “mutual flourishing” in the Five Guiding Principles.  

Since 2014:

  • 67 residentiary canons were appointed including 25 women; 0 traditional catholic; 0 conservative evangelical.
  • 80 archdeacons were appointed including 26 women; 1 traditional catholic; 0 conservative evangelical.
  • 19 deans were appointed including 4 women; 0 traditional catholic; 0 conservative evangelical.
  • 35 suffragan bishops were appointed including 19 women; 1 traditional catholic and 1 conservative evangelical (that is, Bishop Rod Thomas).
  • 12 diocesan bishops were appointed including 5 women; 1 traditional catholic (who has indicated that he will ordain women); 0 conservative evangelical.

The report makes it clear that this situation is not satisfactory. In particular, recommendations 19, 20 and 21 ask for:

  • “Serious consideration” to be given to the appointment of bishops from the breadth of the church, including conservative evangelicals, as suffragan bishops, especially in larger dioceses with multiple suffragans.
  • Some suffragan bishops to be appointed to combined posts, where they minister partly in their own diocese, but also have a wider role for their constituency across other dioceses. These posts would be designated for people from specific traditions, including conservative evangelical.
  • More support and training to ensure that there are appointable candidates from traditions including conservative evangelical.

It should be noted that one of the Implementation and Dialogue Group (IDG), Emma Percy, did not give her support to recommendations 19 and 20, and it is clear throughout that there are many people who remain publicly opposed to the flourishing of conservative evangelicals or catholics in the Church of England.

Correction: in the first draft of this article, The Revd Dr Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society, was cited as the one who had compiled the statistics.  We regret the error.  The statistics were taken from the actual report.

 

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