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What difference are women bishops making?

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2015/07/22 14:55:34 (permalink)

What difference are women bishops making?

The first female to be in charge of a diocese in the UK

Wednesday will see the consecration of the Church of England's most senior woman bishop so far: the first female to be in charge of a diocese.
After Rachel Treweek becomes Bishop of Gloucester, she will also become the first woman bishop to sit in the House of Lords, this autumn. So how are she and the other women bishops making a difference?
When I meet her ahead of her consecration, Rachel Treweek is packing up, preparing to move. She is also worrying about the work being done on the kitchen at the house she will move into with her husband, Guy, another member of the clergy. That is not something many previous incumbents as bishop have had to worry about in earlier centuries or decades.
But the women now rising to senior leadership roles in the Church of England are having to carve out their own paths as they ascend. And as the most senior woman bishop so far, Bishop Treweek knows she will be closely scrutinised as she takes up her new role.
"People often say, 'What difference does it make that women are now in these positions?' and that's quite a hard question," she says.
"I think I'll be someone who is very collaborative. I will take decisions but in a very collaborational way. Women don't live in compartments, we link things together. But first and foremost what I bring is who I am, and part of that is being a woman and responding faithfully to Christ's calling."
At least six women have now shattered what was known as the "stained glass ceiling" by becoming bishops. The majority are married to other members of the clergy, and one - Alison White - became the first to be married to another bishop, Frank.
Christina Rees campaigned for women's ordination during almost a quarter of a century as a lay member of the general synod, the governing body of the Church. Like many, she's thrilled that Rachel Treweek will become the first woman to sit in the House of Lords as part of the Lords Spiritual: a woman on the front bench of the Church.
"Even though I don't like to stereotype women, I think women hold power more lightly," she says. "They have a better way of working through issues - they're less confrontational. So what I hope is that we'll see a more realistic House of Bishops, more in tune with reality and real people, and one that will be more accessible and a little less distant."
However, some at synod expressed their disquiet that those who appoint bishops had chosen women who did not look likely to rock the boat - or at least, not yet. Canon Rosie Harper, who fought hard for female leadership within the Church, says it's still too early to say what impact each woman bishop will have.
"If you speak to them individually, they all say, 'Just you wait and see, they'll make things different and be more radical than people expect.' But clearly the people appointed have all already been deeply involved in the institution. We haven't had anyone from left field.
"It would be unkind to say they'll all be good girl guides - that would be betraying it. But there is a feeling of that. Mostly, they're all married to clergy and the temptation to play the boys' game in order to survive will be very great until there's a much larger number of people."
 
article by Caroline Wyatt on the BBC news
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33606593

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    Re: What difference are women bishops making? 2015/07/23 16:49:30 (permalink)
    I do not think that Anglican women bishops are being chosen to make any difference at all at present. Most are chosen because they are married to men bishops or priests, deeply embedded in the church hierarchy.  None of the women who campaigned openly for women bishops have been chosen. It is good that +Rachel Treweek has been elevated to Gloucester Diocese and appointed to the House of Lords.  The temptation to be nice and not ruffle fathers cannot be resisted by one woman, however skilled she might be, implanted into a paternalistic group of men who still have a fixed idea of what a 'real' woman should be, a helpmeet. We need women in there who have proved themselves able to argue their case and negotiate with those steeped in their 'old ways'.  It is highly disappointing to see what is happening at present.  It might be good to take a risk, elevate a woman like the Chair of the House of Clergy and see what a difference that could make.  Stop being afraid. Get excited by real change.
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    Re: What difference are women bishops making? 2015/07/23 16:52:39 (permalink)
    Should have signed my name to last post submitted on what difference are women bishops making.  I am Una Kroll
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