Support the Café

Search our Site

You’re going to need a program!

You’re going to need a program!

When the Church of England made the journey to allowing women to become bishops, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York established a process for parishes which cannot accept women exercising priestly ministry among them to file a grievance should they believe that a bishop in the Church of England has not honored the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests in supplying the parishes with clergy. The man who decides these grievances is Sir Philip Mawer.

A recent grievance which Sir Philip has decided was against the Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow. The See of Tewkesbury is a suffragan see in the Diocese of Gloucester. (As an aside, the See of Gloucester is in the Province of Canterbury, which is the realm of the Metropolitan Archbishop of the province, the Most Revd Justin Welby, the Senior Primate of the Church of England.)

In Bishop Snow’s jurisdiction is the North Cheltenham Multi-parish Benefice, which consists of five churches in four parishes: All Saints’, Pittville, Cheltenham; St Mary’s, Prestbury; St Nicolas’, Prestbury; St Lawrence’s, Swindon Village and St Mary Magdalene’s, Elmstone Hardwicke. The ministry team that supplies these parishes consists of two male priests, the Revd Canon David Smith, team rector and the Revd Stephen Eldridge, team vicar; two female priests, the Revd Liz Palin, associate priest and the Revd Angela Smith, assistant priest; and a female deacon, the Revd Jennifer Swinbank. By the way, the Revds David and Angela Smith are married and also, the parish of All Saints’ is on record as not accepting the priestly ministry of women. Because of that, the three women on the ministry team are not welcome to minister in that parish.

Bishop Snow was found by Sir Philip to have issued deficient licenses to practice in the multi-parish benefice to the two women priests because he had issued unrestricted licenses. Sir Philip has ruled that their licenses should have stated that they were only entitled to minister in the four churches in the three parishes that specifically accept the ministry of women. A verbal assurance by the bishop to the effect that the women would not minister in the parish of All Saints’ was not considered adequate by Sir Philip. The grievance, however, had not been filed by the parish of All Saints’, which had appeared to be satisfied with the assurance, but by Dr Colin Podmore, who is the director of Forward in Faith England. Forward in Faith is an organization representing the traditionalist strand of Anglo-Catholicism within the Church of England and is characterized by its opposition to the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate and, more recently, to more liberal Anglican views of homosexuality.

Dr Podmore also took the opportunity in his grievance to take a swipe at the former Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham, whom Dr Podmore said believed to be hostile to traditional Catholics. He also inferred that the Bishops of Gloucester and Tewkesbury had failed to help traditional Catholic parishes to flourish. Bishop Perham was of course insulted by the claim and requested that it be withdrawn from the grievance.

Sir Philip has expressed that with the Bishop of Tewkesbury issuing new licenses to practice to the two women priests on the Cheltenham Ministry Team which explicitly state that the authorization granted to Mrs Smith and Ms Palin did not extend to undertaking priestly ministry in the parish of All Saints’ and with the recent consecration of a new Bishop of Gloucester, that everyone has an opportunity for a fresh start. The new Bishop of Gloucester? She is the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, the first female diocesan bishop in the Church of England and the first bishop consecrated by the hand of the current Archbishop of Canterbury! Automatically a bishop whose episcopal ministry is not accepted by the parish of All Saints’.

Read a more detailed article on this story here.

The image is from


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cynthia Katsarelis

David, we live and worship in England part-time and have kept up with the politics there. The price of those women bishops has been the consecration of a couple of fervent misogynists (Philip North, for example, and another who’s been a leader of a rabid anti women group). There’s a reserve of bishops committed to being “untainted” and that practically forms a new province of misogynists within CoE. It is a staggering cost. And that is not what progressives thought they were voting for last summer.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Somehow CoE members got hoodwinked. They thought that provisions for “traditionalist” parishes would mean having male clergy. However, CoE has degenerated into recognizing a theology of “taint” where men who simply support ordination of women are ineligible to minister to them. And bishops who’ve assisted in laying on of hands at a consecration of a female bishop are also tainted. Not only that, where misogynistic clergy were hard pressed to be nominated as bishops in the past, now they have special bishoprics reserved for bigots.

It is a mess. And no one ever considered the impact on girls.

Their handling of LGBTQ people is even worse. I sometimes worship in England, the people are wonderful and accepting, the leadership is a disaster. D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R.

Charels Martel

Or perhaps there is concern over earning leadership of someone with notions that Christ was not male, and the making of raisin cakes.

Regardless – there seems little of quality in leadership today in the Church of England. This equally being the case from left to right.

Paul Woodrum

This sounds as complicated as the US health care system and as palatable as Jim Crow, in this case Jane Crow, discrimination. In Christ there may be neither Jew nor Greek but the C of E obviously thinks there is between male and female when it comes to orders.

Eric Bonetti

Given declining attendance, I would think most CoE parishes would simply be glad to have clergy. Having a grievance over the fact that your bishop is a woman is hogwash.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café