An On-going Discrimination Against Women in Church of England

Nov 18, 2002 03:00 AM EST

November 2002, ten years after the Church of England voted to allow women into the priesthood, women still face a two-tier system of discrimination in the Synod.

In 1992, the controversial Act of Synod accepted women into the priesthood for the first time. The first ordinations took place in March 1994 in Bristol, and since then, more than two thousand women priests serve in many areas of ministry.

This disputed move to ordain women left splits in the Church of England, as some priests and lay people left the congregation to join the Roman Catholic Church and other denominations. For those who remained, Episcopal oversight provided for "flying Bishops," – alternative bishops who served for parishes that strongly disagreed with women's ministry.

Although the Act of Synod was a huge advancement in Women's ministry, women are still unable to take part in episcopacy. A further vote by the General Synod is needed to overturn the provision in the Act of Synod, which banned women from being bishops.

Thus, the Act of Synod established a two-tier priesthood – one for male priest that allows progressive vocations to episcopacy, and another for women priest that restricts promotion.

In the ten years since women's ordination, there are only a handful of women in senior positions. The most senior is the Provost of Leicester Cathedral, Rev Vivienne Faull.

By Pauline J.