Church to allow female clerics to take part in House of Bishops meetings

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Female clergy will be included in meetings of the House of Bishops, in a step towards including women in the leadership of the Church of England.

At least eight women will be elected regionally from within bishops’ senior staff teams, including deans and archdeacons, allowing them to attend and speak at meetings of the House, but not to vote.

The move comes in response to the failed vote to create women bishops at a special meeting of the General Synod last November.

The much-debated attempt fell short of the required two-thirds majority in the House of Laity by just six votes.

The decision on female clergy was made during a special meeting of the House of Bishops, one of the three houses of the General Synod, at Lambeth Palace. In a statement the Church said: “The House of Bishops of the CofE 
has today expressed its encouragement and support for new 
robust processes and steps in bringing forward to General Synod the necessary legislation to consecrate women to the episcopate.

“It decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers.”

The changes to the House’s Standing Orders will be introduced in May, the CofE said.

The latest move could be extended at a diocesan and regional level.