Documents on the ordination of women

Resolutions of the Lambeth Conference, 1920 on the Position of Women in the Councils and Ministrations of the Church

Resolution 46

Women should be admitted to those councils of the Church to which laymen are admitted, and on equal terms. Diocesan, provincial, or national synods may decide when or how this principle is to be brought into effect.


Resolution 47

The time has come when, in the interests of the Church at large, and in particular of the development of the ministry of women, the diaconate of women should be restored formally and canonically, and should be recognised throughout the Anglican Communion.


Resolution 48

The order of deaconesses is for women the one and only order of the ministry which has the stamp of apostolic approval, and is for women the only order of the ministry which we can recommend that our branch of the Catholic Church should recognise and use.


Resolution 49

The office of deaconess is primarily a ministry of succour, bodily and spiritual, especially to women, and should follow the lines of the primitive rather than of the modern diaconate of men. It should be understood that the deaconess dedicates herself to a life-long service, but that no vow or implied promise of celibacy should be required as necessary for admission to the order. Nevertheless, deaconesses who desire to do so may legitimately pledge themselves either as members of a community, or as individuals, to a celibate life.


Resolution 50

In every branch of the Anglican Communion there should be adopted a Form and Manner of Making of Deaconesses such as might fitly find a place in the Book of Common Prayer, containing in all cases provision for:

  1. prayer by the bishop and the laying-on of his hands;
  2. a formula giving authority to execute the office of a deaconess in the Church of God;
  3. the delivery of the New Testament by the bishop to each candidate.


Resolution 51

The Forms for the Making and Ordering of Deaconesses should be of the same general character, and as far as possible similar in their most significant parts, though varying in less important details in accordance with local needs.


Resolution 52

The following functions may be entrusted to the deaconess, in addition to the ordinary duties which would normally fall to her:

  1. to prepare candidates for baptism and confirmation;
  2. to assist at the administration of Holy Baptism; and to be the administrant in cases of necessity in virtue of her office;
  3. to pray with and give counsel to such women as desire help in difficulties and perplexities;
  4. with the approval of the bishop and of the parish priest, and under such conditions as shall from time to time be laid down by the bishop:
  5. in church to read Morning and Evening Prayer and the Litany, exceptsuch portions as are assigned to the priest only;
  6. in church also to lead in prayer and, under licence of the bishop, to instruct and exhort the congregation.

(Voting on Clause d(ii): For 117; Against 81.)


Resolution 53

Opportunity should be given to women as to men (duly qualified and approved by the bishop) to speak in consecrated or unconsecrated buildings, and to lead in prayer, at other than the regular and appointed services of the Church. Such diocesan arrangements, both for men and for women, should wherever possible be subject to provincial control and co-ordination.


Resolution 54

The Conference recommends that careful inquiry should be made in the several branches of the Anglican Communion as to the position and recognition of women workers in the Church, the conditions of their employment, and the remuneration of those who receive salaries.


The Resolutions of the 1968 Lambeth Conference on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

Resolution 34

The Conference affirms its opinion that the theological arguments as at present presented for and against the ordination of women to the priesthood are inconclusive.


Resolution 35

The Conference requests every national and regional Church or province to give careful study to the question of the ordination of women to the priesthood and to report its findings to the Anglican Consultative Council (or Lambeth Consultative Body) which will make them generally available to the Anglican Communion.


Resolution 36

The Conference requests the Anglican Consultative Council (or Lambeth Consultative Body)

(a) to initiate consultations with other Churches which have women in their ordained ministry and with those which have not;

(b) to distribute this information thus secured throughout the Anglican Communion.


Resolution 37

The Conference recommends that, before any national or regional Church or province makes a final decision to ordain women to the priesthood, the advice of the Anglican Consultative Council (or Lambeth Consultative Body) be sought and carefully considered.


Resolution 38

The Conference recommends that, in the meantime, national or regional Churches or provinces should be encouraged to make canonical provision, where this does not exist, for duly qualified women to share in the conduct of liturgical worship, to preach, to baptize, to read the Epistle and Gospel at the Holy Communion, and to help in the distribution of the elements.


Religion and gendered language

From an interview with a young Anglican laywoman opposed to the ordination of women in 1994

I was very disappointed when they voted yes. I remember I was coming back from a course and I can remember being absolutely devastated that it was going to go ahead. … Sometimes I think of Father Jill and it just makes me laugh and this is a reality come tomorrow. Because they are women stepping into the role of the father. So how the hell do you do it? It doesn’t really make sense. I know it’s only language but it’s quite important. All this thing about inclusive language… How could God be a woman if he’s the Father of Jesus? It just doesn’t make sense. He’s not a man. He does have female attributes, but he’s got that more whole side of him. He’s got the complementarity of the thing but I wouldn’t ever say that God was a woman because he couldn’t be the father of Jesus. Why would Mary be needed if he was a woman as well as a man? So, it’s all very confusing. It’s not clear.

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