Gender and Ministry

In the life of the Church of England, with all its diversity, questions of gender and how it relates to ministry are crucial. In order to ensure that all gifts and ministries can flourish, we are researching how women and men experience ministry differently in a range of contexts. Alongside this, recognising that not all of its members can in good conscience accept the ministry of ordained women, the Church continues to explore the meaning of unity in the face of divergent theologies (see the Five Guiding Principles adopted by the House of Bishops).

The Transformations Research and Implementation Group has identified five key areas for gender-related research:

  • Young vocations
  • Self-supporting ministry
  • Larger churches
  • Senior posts
  • Flexible working practices

The work has so far focussed on two of these areas: young vocations and larger churches. Using a range of methods, including statistical analysis, participatory group discussions and semi-structured interviews, the research seeks to answer the following two fundamental questions:

  • While overall rates of ordination are roughly equally split between men and women, why are fewer than a quarter of those seeking ordination under the age of thirty female?
  • Why are fewer than 2% of leaders of larger churches female?


Young vocations: journeys towards ordination: a qualitative study exploring how women and men under the age of 30 experience the process of discerning their vocation (read a summary)

Women and leadership in the Church: insights from gender and management literature: a review of research investigating gender imbalances in senior management beyond the church.

Vocational pathways: clergy leading large churches: a study of how male and female church leaders move through ministry, with a particular focus on incumbents of larger churches.

The 2011 Conference

The Transformations Conference was convened by Archbishop Rowan Williams on 19th September 2011 at Lambeth Palace to:

explore the lived experience of women in ordained ministry 17 years after the first women were ordained priests in the Church of England.

The conference was written up in a report and subsequently presented to the College of Bishops on 11th September 2012. The Transformations Steering Group (TSG) was invited to plan the conference, write the conference report and present the conference findings to the College of Bishops.  Its current form developed out of prior conversations at Lambeth seeking to facilitate communication between the Archbishop and groups concerned with the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England.

The Transformations Research and Implementation Group (TRIG) was established in November 2012 by the House of Bishops, to oversee the research agreed at the College of Bishops meeting and consider resulting actions and further research.

In 2014, the House of Bishops published five guiding principles underpinning the admission of women to the episcopate, which was formally legalised by General Synod in November 2014.

Transformations Steering Group Terms of Reference

Transformations Research and Implementation Group Terms of Reference

Lambeth Palace 2011 Conference Report

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