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Women Bishops: Enough Waiting –Rebecca Swinson’s message to General Synod

Tuesday 23rd October 2012

In a video message for the Archbishop’s campaign to support the current legislation for women bishops, Rebecca Swinson - the youngest-ever member of Archbishops’ Council – outlines why she wants to see the legislation for women bishops passed at this November’s Synod.

Rebecca speaks of her own experience of seeing women ministering in parish settings and having a female chaplain in her school, and how the fact that there are no women in the House of Bishops looks out of date to her contemporaries who see the importance of women taking a lead in church life, as they do in all other areas of society.

If the legislation is not passed next month, Rebecca warns, the danger is that too much time will be spent in the coming years discussing the issue when there are much more important things to debate such as the healthcare system and benefits, ‘things that really matter to the people we seek to serve’. 

The full transcript of the video is below:   

Hi.  My name is Rebecca Swinson and I’m one of the appointed members of the Archbishops’ Council.  This November the Church of England is going to be called to make one of the biggest decisions that it’s made in the past 20 years – whether or not we should approve the legislation for women bishops. There are two main reasons why I think now is really the time for us to do this and why we can’t delay it any further.

The first is that I’ve been really fortunate to experience the ministry of women over the past 20 years. I’ve grown up with this in the Church and it has really been a blessing.  I was fortunate to have a female chaplain when I was at school, and many of my contemporaries have experienced the ministry of women in a parish setting – some of them have only really experienced the ministry of women, and not men.

So for a lot of us, when we look at this decision, we aren’t quite sure why we’re still taking the time to talk about this and why we’re not just going out there and doing it – because it’s seems like a bit of a strange situation to have women at all levels of the Church, apart from sitting in the House of Bishops.

The second reason is that it is really important for the mission of the Church of England, that we’re able to show that women are an accepted and valued part of our ministry.  And also so we don’t say ‘no’ and spend the next 5 or 10 years still getting tied up in trying to discuss this issue when, for so many people out there, there are much more important things for us to be talking about – things about benefits and our healthcare system, things that really matter to the people we seek to serve.


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has begun a campaign to persuade General Synod members to back the new women bishops legislation when it returns to debate next month.  The Archbishop's article was published in the Church Times on Friday 19th October.


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