SCOTLAND: Woman as candidate for bishop 'significant,' says campaigner

January 19, 2010

The chairperson of a group campaigning for women bishops says she is disappointed that the Rev. Alison Peden was not elected Britain's first female Anglican bishop but that it is "significant and encouraging" for a woman to have been one of the three candidates that the Scottish Episcopal Church considered.

"It was good to think that we could have had a woman bishop in the Anglican church in Britain, and I am sure it will happen before long," Christina Rees, chairperson of WATCH (Women and the Church), told Ecumenical News International on Jan. 18.

Peden was the first woman to be shortlisted in Britain as a possible Anglican bishop. Still, on Jan. 16, an electoral synod of the Scottish church chose one of the other two candidates, the Rev. Gregor Duncan, dean of Glasgow and Galloway, the diocese for which the election was held.

"I am delighted for Dr. Gregor Duncan," Peden said in a Jan. 18 statement. "He is a respected friend of mine, and I am sure he will be an excellent bishop."

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church voted in 2003 to allow women bishops.

Bishop David Chillingworth, primus (leader) of the Scottish church, who chaired the electoral synod, said gender had not played a part in the decision and that Peden being shortlisted for the post had helped change the perception of women in the church.

The General Synod of the neighboring Church of England voted in 2008 by more than two to one to bring forward legislation to allow the consecration of women as bishops. Some observers have said that final approval might take place in 2012.