(Reuters) – The Church of England published a plan on Friday to approve the ordination of women bishops by 2015, a widely supported reform it just missed passing last November after two decades of divisive debate.

It said the new plan, outlined in a document signed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu, would be presented to the General Synod, the Church legislature, in July to begin the approval process.

The proposal would make allowances for traditionalists who oppose women clergy, a minority that blocked the reform at the last Synod meeting, but each diocese will have to have a bishop willing to ordain women to the priesthood, it said.

See the full story at Huffington Post.

The Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned from offering same-sex marriages, the government has announced.

All other religious organisations will be able to “opt in” to offering ceremonies, Culture Secretary Maria Miller told MPs, but it will be illegal for the Church of England to offer gay marriage ceremonies.

The first gay weddings could take place in just over a year’s time after the Coalition Government detailed its plans this afternoon to legalise same-sex marriages.

In an attempt to pacify hostile religious leaders and win round Tory opponents, ministers announced a series of safeguards for churches and places of worship that do not want to conduct the ceremonies.

Read the full story in The Independent.


By Jody Stowell

The Rev. Jody Stowell

Almost a week has passed since I was sitting, nervous, jittery and hopeful on the edge of my seat, in the public gallery in Church House, Westminster.  I was waiting for the voting figures to be called, first the bishops, then the clergy, and finally the laity.

Since that moment it has been all at once interesting – in a way that a disinterested observer might watch a newly discovered tribe order themselves by strange alien customs – and painful, so that the grief cycle of disbelief, anger, sadness is completed a number of times every day.

The most surprising emotion that I experienced this week was the sense of shame that rested upon me on the Wednesday morning.  I felt that I simply did not exist at the same level of priestliness as my male colleagues. I have heard a lot about ‘second-class’ citizens in this debate – whether it is in defence of making sure that women bishops are equally bishops, or, distastefully in my opinion, the cries of ‘second-class’ status that those who are ‘anti’ claim. However, I had not expected to feel like a second-class priest.  After all, isn’t this about bishops?  Not priests.

So, why this is not just about ‘Women Bishops’? Read More…

The Christian Church is in urgent need of reform. At the Threshold, with your help, is demanding that Christian leaders restore dignity to women at all levels of ministry and membership. Join the effort now by signing the online petition at change.org. The full text of the petition is at the bottom of this article. Go to change.org and add your name to the movement. Then spread the word — the petition only grows if you share it. Who will you ask to sign it today?

Women once held a much higher position in the church. The book of Acts and the epistles testify to women serving as missionaries, church leaders, deacons, prophets and apostles. But as the church became a powerful institution rather than a persecuted minority, women’s roles were suppressed. The church has worked shamefully hard to maintain a two-tiered system in which women are second-class Christians. Although women’s status differs in various Christian traditions and denominations, the subjugation of women in the Church is evident in nearly every expression of Christianity. In some congregations, women must cover their heads and remain silent during worship. Even in churches where full leadership participation is open to women, studies show that female clergy are more likely to be assigned to declining churches in rural areas, and more likely to occupy “associate” rather than “senior” positions, resulting in a gender pay gap.

Two egregious offenses have dominated the news this year, highlighting the need for reform: The Church of England recently voted against women bishops, and the Vatican publicly attacked its own nuns. Roman Catholic nuns in the United States have come under fire for supporting issues like women’s ordination that go against the Vatican.

Text of petition below. Please sign this petition at change.org. Read More…