Women Make Continued Advances in the Episcopacy

It’s not your imagination – there really has been an explosion in the number of female bishops.

On her way out the door to retirement, the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg has posted an in-depth analysis at Episcopal News Service. So far this year, six of the eight bishops elected have been women.

There are five more bishop elections scheduled in 2019, and the slates of candidates have been chosen for two dioceses. Half of the four candidates in Southern Virginia are women, and Montana will choose from a slate of three women and no men. The all-female slate is a trend TLC described late last year.

The article includes the graphic above from the Rev. Frank Logue, Executive Council member and canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Georgia. In addition to the female bishop boom, the chart makes another point, not covered in the ENS article.

Early this year TLC published an extended interview with Bishop Todd Ousley, who leads the Church’s Office of Pastoral Development. The interview was prompted by a perception that an unusually large number of bishop transitions were under way.

Ousley said the number of ongoing transitions was “reasonable” compared with the past – which led some readers to express skepticism.

But if you look closely, the graphic backs up Ousley. In addition to showing the bumper crop of female bishops, the right-most two bars in the chart are more or less in the middle of the pack for total bishop elections.

The bar at the farthest right is for 2019, which of course is not over. But the ENS story indicates there will be five more bishops elected this year, in addition to the eight so far. If you look closely, you’ll see that 13 bishops will put 2019 in a four-way tie for fourth place over the last 30 years. That’s a big year, but there have been six other years with the same or more bishop elections.

Kirk Petersen


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