From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Scottish Episcopal Church Debates Women Bishops, TV Sitcom Involved

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Fri, 14 Jun 2002 10:52:37 -0700

The Scottish Episcopal Church

Press release

Vicar of Dibley joins woman bishop debate

The woman who inspired the Vicar of Dibley today urged the Scottish
Episcopal Church to open the door to women bishops in an historic vote on
Joy Carroll was one of the first women to be ordained as a priest in the UK
and became the model for Dawn French's character in the hit TV sitcom.
The intervention from the pioneering priest comes just ahead of a key vote
on whether to allow women bishops at the church's General Synod, which runs
from tomorrow (Thursday, June 13) to Saturday, June 15.
Ms Carroll, one of the most prominent women clerics in the Anglican Church
world-wide, said: "It's an incredibly exciting vote.
"There was a lot of fear and uncertainty before the church allowed woman
priests. All I can say is that many people were converted when they actually
saw a woman priest in action, carrying out her role.
  "I am lucky enough to work under a woman who is an assistant bishop in
Washington DC, Jane Dixon. She does a really, really good job with great
Ms Carroll recently moved from the UK to work as a priest in the Episcopal
Church in the USA. The US Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the
Church of England, are all members of the same "Anglican" family of
At the moment, only the Anglican churches in the USA and New Zealand have
employed women as bishops. The Anglican Church in Ireland has voted to allow
women bishops but has yet to appoint one.
After Scotland, Ms Carroll hopes to kick-start the debate over women bishops
in the Church of England. She is planning to lay out her arguments in her
book "Beneath the Cassock: The Real-life Vicar of Dibley", due out in
August. The book also describes how she was spotted by Richard Curtis (of
Four Weddings and a Funeral fame) and chosen as the model for his TV series.
Ms Carroll worked closely with Dawn French, who has written the forward for
the book.
Ms Carroll said she had no personal ambition to become a Bishop. "I can't
imagine going down that road right now. If you're called, you're called. But
I don't have any particular ambition in that direction."
This year's General Synod will hear the first reading of a new church law
that would enable women bishops. If the law, or "canon", is passed, it will
go out for further debate in the seven regions or "dioceses" of the Scottish
Episcopal Church.
The canon would then come back for a second reading at next year's General
Synod, where it would need to be supported by two thirds of Synod members
before it becomes law.
If the Canon is passed next year, the upcoming retiral of the church's
Bishop of Argyll & the Isles, would mean that, in theory, a woman could
become a bishop in the SEC as early as 2004. That could give Scotland the
first female bishop in the UK.
The Most Rev Bruce Cameron, Primus or head of the Scottish Episcopal Church,
today said that it was important that the church stuck closely to its
procedures in reaching a decision.
But he said he would propose the first reading of the canon at around
10.45am on Friday. "I do so because I believe this Church on the whole
discerns it to be the right time to do it. I am also confident that we can
take this decision and live effectively and sensitively with our differences
of view."

A copy of the cover of Joy Carroll's new book (which shows her alongside
Dawn French) can be downloaded from
The Scottish Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican family of
churches. It has hundreds of congregations across Scotland, from Burravoe on
the Isle of Yell in the north to Kirkcudbright in the south.
The General Synod acts as the Parliament of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
It is the Church's legislative and deliberative body. Members oversee and
direct the work of the Church's boards and committees.
The General Synod meets once a year to vote on two broad types of motion:
firstly on formal changes to Canon Law or internal church policy; and
secondly on wider issues of national and international concern.
This year it is meeting from Thursday June 13 to Saturday June 15 in
Palmerston Place Church in Palmerston Place, Edinburgh (see map). There will
be press facilities throughout the Synod meetings. Full agendas and
background papers are available from Andrew Heavens (07929 003 809 - mob).
The vote on the first reading of the Women Bishops Canon is due to start at
about 10.45am on Friday, June 14. Journalists are encouraged to arrive

Andrew Heavens
(press officer)
0131 225 6357 (tel)
07929 003809 (mob)
0131 346 7247 (fax)
press@scotland. (email)

Joy Carroll
(001) 202 483 0119

The Most Rev Bruce Cameron
Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
01224 636653 (w)
01224 208142 (h)
07715 323 119 (mob)

Canon Len Black
Chairman of Forward In Faith Scotland
01463 233797
07836 365719 (mob)
The group has opposed the ordination of women

The Rev Alison Wagstaff
Co-ordinator of Movement for Whole Ministry in the Scottish Episcopal Church

0131 554 6702
0131 551 1381 (w)
The group has supported the ordination of women

  <<General Synod  Map.gif>> 

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