1980s: The Ordination of Women

Parish & People celebrates the ordination of women within the Church of England, both as Deacons (1987) and as Priests (1994).

This is not so much a matter of renewal as an important case where a wrong has been righted. Culturally this has still to be recognised in many parts of the world, but the Church of England has made the choice - joyful for most, painful for some - not to wait for the rest of the world.

The result is two ‘integrities’ within the C of E and a difficult debate about whether women should also be made bishops. Can bishops within one Church be out of communion with each other?

The contribution of women to ordained ministry is close to the heart of Christopher Hall, whose father ordained the Revd Dr Florence Li Tim-Oi, the Anglican Communion’s first woman priest, in China in 1944. Parish and People is proud to be associated with the  Li Tim-Oi Foundation, of which Christopher is the Secretary.

What about today?

The debates about the ordination of women were necessary, but they have diverted attention from bigger questions that must be faced if Christ’s Church is to be renewed:

  • Where is the serious debate taking place about the role of ordained ministry - deacon, priest or bishop – in a church where ministry (and serving God’s mission) are accepted as the responsibility of the whole Christian community?

  • Who is listening to the arguments for the communal nature of ministry, when many dioceses are replacing essentially communal ‘local ministry schemes’ with schemes authorising individual lay people as ‘Lay Pastoral Assistants’ etc – making them in effect ‘mini-clergy’?

  • What is the nature of leadership within a Christian community? How can entrepreneurs avoid being control-freaks?

How Parish & People is still at work

The debate about leadership styles and about the role of ordained people as 'leaders' is a long way from being resolved.

Download these two booklets:

Leadership and Vision

by Jimmy Hamilton-Brown (2004)  -   An exploration of how the role of parish clergy is changing and must continue to change as lay people are set free to fulfil their baptismal vocation.

Leadership in the Local Church

by John Cole (2013)  -  Subtitled "The Blessings of Powerlessness", this short paper offers a provocative and Biblically-based assessment of the place of leadership, when the Church takes seriously the whole-life ministry of the members of the local Christian community.

Also available:

  1. A List of resources - books, quotations etc
  2. Lay Discipleship and Leadership - eight key issues identified by Hilary Ineson in 1999 and still relevant today!