Consecration of female bishops
in the Scottish Episcopal Church
Consecration of female priests as bishops in Scotland:
1985: The first women deacons were
ordained by the Scottish Episcopal Church.
1994: The first women priests were
2002-JUN: The first reading of the motion to accept female bishops in principle passed overwhelmingly at the General Synod of the Scottish
Episcopal Church. The existing bishops voted unanimously in favor of allowing women to become bishops. The clergy voted 64 to eight in favor; the
laity followed suit with a vote of 64 to seven. 1
2003-JUN: The General Synod met during the week of 2003-JUN-9. The second and final reading on this issue was held. Before the vote, the
Rev Trevor Stevens, of Forward in Faith Scotland diocese promoted a delay in the decision. He said: "What may be about to take place is
not simply a change in our practice, but it is rather about changing the whole nature of the Church. A few more years to deal with a nagging doubt seems
a small price to pay." He told Radio 4's Today program: "In the Anglican communion, of which we are a part, not all churches have
made up their mind on this issue. "I feel that in Scotland we need more time for the ordination of women priests to bed down, and time to do more
theological work. The Church of England is currently producing a report being carried out by the Rochester Commission, and I feel that waiting a little
while longer in Scotland and learning from its answers would be important." 2
He was unable to sway the delegates. The total vote was 124 to 24 in favor of change. The seven bishops voted unanimously for the motion. A
spokesperson said: "We have ended centuries of tradition today while allowing women to become bishops. It is a momentous decision for the church.
Gabrielle Robertson, an organist from the diocese of St Andrews, said: "At the moment I have a male priest, but if I were to be put in a
position where there was a woman priest I would be forced to leave. The majority of the congregation are anti-women priests and all that goes with
Canon Ruth Edwards, of the diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, said: "To do less is discrimination. We have had many years now of experience of
women in all forms of ministry, a growing number of our candidates for ordination are women, a growing number of our clergy are women, and it
seems very strange to fix on them a stained-glass ceiling."
The Most Rev Bruce Cameron, the primus, or leader, of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said "For some it will be received with great joy,
for others with real pain. But I know that most of us want to be part of this same family called the Episcopal Church."
The synod's decision will put additional pressure on the Church of England, which continues its ban on female bishops. There
was speculation that
when Rt. Rev. Douglas Cameron retires as bishop of Argyll and the Islands in 2004, his replacement will be a woman. Some male priests
repulsed by the idea of a female bishop that they were expected to resign.
Instead, The Rt. Rev. Martin Shaw, a male priest, was consecrated as bishop.
"Scottish church backs female bishops. The first female Anglican bishop
in Britain and Ireland could be in place as early as next year after a landmark
vote by bishops in Scotland," BBC News, 2003-JUN-12, at: