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The History of Women clergy in the Anglican Communion

The History of Women clergy in the Anglican Communion

July 14, 2012

Here is a look at the issue of the ordination of women priests and bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion:

1968 - The Lambeth Conference, the meeting of all Anglican church leaders once every ten years, recommended that women be involved as much as possible in worship at services pending resolution of the female ordination issue that had been debated with increasing intensity during the 1960s.

1971 - The Anglican Church in Hong Kong ordained two women priests and confirm the status of a third women priest who was originally ordained in 1944 during the Japanese occupation but stepped down from her post after the Second World War ended.

1974 - Three retired bishops of the Episcopal Church, the US branch of Anglicanism, irregularly ordained 11 women priests. These ordinations were declared illegal, but were later regularised.

1975 - Pope Paul VI wrote to then Archbishop of Canterbury Donald Coggan, a supporter of women priests, saying women cannot be ordained because Jesus's 12 apostles were all men.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada voted to allow women priests and the first six were ordained the following year.

1976 - The Episcopal Church passed a resolution declaring that "no one shall be denied access" because of their gender to ordination into the three orders of ministry: as deacons, priests or bishops. It held its first regular ordination of a woman priest the following year.

1977 - The Anglican Church in New Zealand ordains its first five women as priests.

1989 - The Anglican Church of New Zealand consecrates its first woman bishop. Later that year, the Episcopal Church consecrates an African-American as its first woman bishop.

1992 - The Church of England General Synod approves the ordination of women priests. The first takes place in 1994.

1993 - Canada's Anglican Church appoints first woman bishop.

2006 - The Church of England votes to ordain women as bishops. A Manchester University study finds that in the 12 years since women were ordained priests, most were given unpaid roles while male colleagues are largely found in paid positions.

The US Episcopal Church elects Katharine Jefferts Schori(right) as its first woman Presiding Bishop, or head.

2007 - The Episcopal Church of Cuba ordains its first woman bishop.

2008 - Australia's Anglican Church appoints its first woman bishop.

2010 - The Church of England moves a step closer to ordaining women as bishops, but deep divisions remain that threaten a split between liberals and traditionalists.

- The General Synod, or parliament, votes in July in favour of giving equal status to male and female bishops, against the wishes of traditionalists and evangelicals.

- The Church fails to find a solution uniting the majority view that women should be consecrated as bishops and the minority who object on Biblical or theological grounds. The draft legislation goes to the dioceses.

July 9, 2012 - A final vote on woman bishops is put off until at least November after reform supporters objected to a concession to conservatives that would allow dissenting parishes to opt to follow a like-minded alternative male bishop if a woman were named to head their dioceses.

- The new Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, will inherit this when he takes over from Rowan Williams in 2013.

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