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A Red Letter Day? CofE Admits ‘Ministry of the Laity’

I am sure you will have seen the statement by the Archbishops’ Council issued today. I am reblogging it here, not because of its main import, but because of the interesting (revolutionary?) third sentence. This is the first time I have ever seen the Church of England talk about the ministry of  lay people (of whatever sex). This may be an accident (but surely not?).  Whether this is a straw in the wind, a sign of what the Revd Rosemary Lain-Priestley referred to as the tipping-point, we shall be able to decide in years to come. She was of course referring to the ministry of ordained women, but the Church cannot possibly consider revaluing what I will now unashamedly call the ministry of the laity until the ministry of women priests has been revalued. Onward and upwards, brothers and sisters in Christ, the sunlit uplands may at last be beckoning!

Statement on the Conclusion of the Meeting of the Archbishops’ Council November 2012

28 November 2012

“The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England met on November 27-28th to consider a wide ranging agenda. A substantial amount of time was given over to the discussion of the recent vote by General Synod on Women in the Episcopate.

“As part of their reflections, many council members commented on the deep degree of sadness and shock that they had felt as a result of the vote and also of the need to affirm all women serving the church – both lay and ordained – in their ministries.

“In its discussions the Council decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013. There was agreement that the Church of England had to resolve this matter through its own processes as a matter of urgency. The Council therefore recommended that the House of Bishops, during its meeting in a fortnight’s time, put in place a clear process for discussions in the New Year with a view to bringing legislative proposals before the Synod in July.”



The Archbishops Council is a body of 19 members which acts as the standing committee of the General Synod and has a number of other responsibilities as a trustee body.

The members of the council include the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the chairs of the House of Clergy and the Chairs of the House of Laity. Full membership of the groups is available here:

The illustration is by Dmitrijs Dmitrijevs and is via Shutterstock

5 comments on this post:

Chris Fewings said...

It’s funny how much we’ve how much we’ve focused on bishops and archbishops recently – maybe their lordships when they meet next week should make a point of affirming lay men too – a minority with their own part to play.

28 November 2012 18:01
Lay Anglicana said...

Absolutely, Chris, but getting them to acknowledge the laity is going to be an uphill struggle – even more uphill than women’s ministry, I fear. Two problems: they see any further shouldering of responsibility by the laity as Congregationalism or Presbyterianism in all but name, and they see Episcopal governance as under threat.

28 November 2012 18:20
Phil Groom said...

So… “a matter of urgency” — but we’ll put it off until next year. Wake up, my Lord Bishops, and stop prevaricating!!

Oh, hang on: I said that a couple of days ago: Women Bishops: Over 13,000 petition signatures call for action whilst Synod dithers – and it’s now well over 16,000 signatures. Come along now, chaps: tally ho!

Lay Anglicana said...

Well, I’ve signed. And I hope our Lay Anglicana readers have signed. 16,000 signatures is amazing progress, Phil!

Phil Groom said...

To clarify: that’s 16,000 signatures across the four petitions I’ve referred to in my blog post; apologies if that read as 16k on mine – that’s a more humble 222 at last count.

28 November 2012 21:23
28 November 2012 20:25
28 November 2012 19:44

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