The Anglican Church in England approves the ordination of women Bishops 25 years after the Church of the Province of New Zealand.

The Anglican Church in England approves the ordination of women Bishops 25 years after the Church of the Province of New Zealand.

Kevin P Clements

NCPACS, University of Otago


The   General Synod of the Anglican Church in England has finally approved the ordination of women as Bishops. This is being billed as path breaking and innovative but it comes 25 years after Penny Jamieson was ordained as the first diocesan bishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand. The fact that it has taken so long for the Anglican Church in the United Kingdom to reach the same position is testimony to the persistent power of religious patriarchy and the conservative positions of evangelical and high church Anglicans. It would have been absolutely astonishing if the General Synod had not approved   the ordination of women Bishops in 2014 . It would have offended most European Human Right’s legislation and equal opportunity rights in the United Kingdom as well.

It’s a pity that Penny Jamieson’s experience did not create bigger waves in the UK. She was a genuine pioneer who spoke out and wrote about powerful women in patriarchal institutions. From the moment of her ordination she was subject to considerable marginalisation by powerful male religious leaders.

The Anglican Bishop of Aotearoa, the Rt Rev Whakahuihui Vercoe and the Catholic Bishop of Dunedin, the Most Rev Leonard Boyle, for example boycotted Penny’s ordination. In 1998 she spoke candidly at Kings College, London, saying she wouldn’t wish being a woman bishop on anyone. ‘The continuingly subtle, even underground power of patriarchy, whether exercised by men or by women, to destroy from a base of self-righteousness is truly appalling.’ Penny was a lone and solitary voice in New Zealand Anglicanism until August 2008 when The Right Reverend Victoria Matthews, a Canadian bishop, became New Zealand’s second woman bishop when she was elected Bishop of Christchurch.

The challenge now facing the Anglican Church in the UK is working out ways in which women can be elected to vacant Bishoprics   and are not marginalised   as suffragan ( or assistant) Bishops. The reality is that women are overrepresented in the pews in both the United Kingdom and New Zealand but under-represented as Priests and Bishops. It is sad that much of the opposition to the ordination of women Bishops in the United Kingdom came from evangelical women who argued that men must never be taught by women. The fact that such sentiments continue in the United Kingdom or anywhere is a reflection of how far we have to go all around the world if we are to start undermining patriarchal privilege, patriarchal rights, and patriarchal paralysis in all of our leading institutions.

This is a bold step forward for the Anglican church in the UK but 25 years after the women who were ordained as Priests and Bishops in the late 1980s and 1990s in New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United States.

Its an interesting reflection of the times   that it has taken 25 long years after Bishop Penny Jamieson’s own ministry as Bishop of Dunedin, Dunedin New Zealand,  for the Anglican Church in England to catch up with her pioneering ministry in the Anglican periphery. Its nice to know that dear old Dunedin i  led the way. Thank goodness the UK is finally catching up with “Godzone ” country.    



About kevinclements2012

Short CV Professor Kevin P Clements. I am the Foundation Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, Dunedin New Zealand and Secretary General of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy. Prior to taking up these positions I was the Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia . I went to Queensland from International Alert where I was Secretary General from January 1999 to September 2003. International Alert is one of the world’s largest NGOs working on conflict transformation. It pioneered innovative policy and practical approaches to conflict prevention and transformation in Africa ,Eurasia and Asia . It has also made a major contribution to the mainstreaming of conflict prevention within European Foreign and Development Ministries, the EU and a variety of UN institutions. During his time there I was on the Board of the European Centre for Conflict Prevention and past President of the European Peace Building Liaison Office in Brussels. Prior to becoming Secretary General of International Alert I was the Vernon and Minnie Lynch Chair of Conflict Resolution at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University Fairfax Virginia USA 1994-2000 and Director of the Institute from 1994-1999. My career has been a combination of academic analysis and practice in the areas of peacebuilding and conflict transformation. I was, for example, formerly Director of the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva and Head of the Peace Research Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra .Prior to this I was Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Coordinator of Peace Studies at Canterbury University, Christchurch New Zealand . My first academic position was as a lecturer in Sociology at Hong Kong University . I took up this position from a Post Doctoral Fellowship at Oxford University where I worked on development issues with Paul Streeten and others. I have been an advisor to the New Zealand, Australian , British , Swedish and Dutch governments on conflict prevention , peace, defence and security issues and advised the German Government and the OECD on States and Violence. I was, a member of the New Zealand Government’s Defence Committee of Enquiry in 1985 and I currently conducting Problem Solving Workshops in North East Asia with high level participants from Japan, China and Korea. Iwas President of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) from 1994-1998, President of the IPRA Foundation from 1995-2000 and Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Peace Research Association. I was Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association 2008-2010. I got my B.A, B.A Hon ( First Class) and Ph.D in Sociology from Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand. and held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Oxford from 1970-1971. I have been a regular consultant to a variety of non governmental and intergovernmental organisations on disarmament, arms control, conflict resolution, development and regional security issues and I have written or edited 7 books and over 160 chapters /articles on conflict transformation, peacebuilding, preventive diplomacy and development with a specific focus on the Asia Pacific region. Research Expertise 1. Peace Research Theory- Conflict and Conflict Resolution Theory . Preventive Diplomacy , Development and Peacebuilding 2. International and Regional Regimes-APEC, ASEAN, the ARF, ECOWAS 3. Political Sociology-International Organisations. Multilateral/bilateral negotiating processes. 4. Fragile States, Legitimacy and Political Hybridity 5. Alternative Defence and Security Policies-Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific region. 6. The politics and ethics of international humanitarian intervention 7. Altruism and Compassion In my spare time I like to paint with acrylics or pastels, go to the theatre, listen to classical music, visit art galleries etc!
This entry was posted in Anglican Church, Female Ordination of Clergy and Bishops, General Synod, Inner and Outer Worlds, Love and Mutuality, Penny Jamieson. Bookmark the permalink.

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