England: House of Bishops welcomes female ‘participant observers’

Posted Dec 10, 2013

[Church of England press release] The House of Bishops of the Church of England met for two days in York Dec. 9 and 10. This meeting was the first at which 8 female regional representatives attended the meeting as participant observers with the same rights as Provincial Episcopal Visitors.

Over its meeting the house covered a wide range of business including discussion of women in the episcopate, the Pilling Report on Human Sexuality, the approval of experimental liturgy for Baptism, changes to legislative approaches on Safeguarding and discussion of the Anglican-Methodist covenant.

As part of their discussion on women in the episcopate, the house heard from members of the steering committee on women bishops on suggestions for the next steps in the process. The house agreed the text of a draft declaration and regulations for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure for debate at General Synod in February 2014. The house also agreed to begin at the February Synod the process for rescinding the 1993 Act of Synod so that all the elements of the new package could be agreed by the synod in July 2014.

The house discussed and approved proposals for a new governance framework to enable the church to develop a strategic vision for safeguarding. The house also approved proposed recommendations for legislative changes on safeguarding to be brought to General Synod.

Sir Joseph Pilling attended the House to introduce a discussion on ways to address the recently published report on human sexuality, a paper commissioned by the House of Bishops as a report to the house.

Following the mandate from the General Synod in 2011, the house also discussed and gave its support for the experimental use of new additional liturgy for the Baptism of infants and young children. The new texts will be made available for use in January 2014 until April 2014 and will be discussed again by the house during its meeting in May.

The house also received updates on a range of work being undertaken in areas of ministerial education, training and clergy discipline.