Want to Learn More about Women’s Ordination Debates within Anglicanism? Start With These Resources

Maybe you, like me, are coming to Anglicanism from a different tradition.

If that’s the case, then one thing you should know is that Anglican debates about women’s ordination can often be quite different from debates about the same topic in other church contexts.

This is due to Anglicans having different views on, among other things:

  • ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church),
  • the sacraments, and
  • ordination.

For example, in my broadly evangelical/non-denominational/Baptist upbringing, debates about women in ministry centered on whether or not women were allowed to preach and teach.

In Anglican circles, although you can still find debates about preaching/teaching, I’ve found that people place much more focus on whether or not women can administer the sacraments as priests.

If you’re interested in learning more about the contours of Anglican debates on women’s ordination, I recommend that you start out by reading the 2017 ACNA Holy Orders Task Force Report. It is an especially useful document for those coming from a USA evangelical background into Anglicanism.


The ACNA Holy Orders Task Force Report (2017)

Here’s an excerpt from the official ACNA announcement of the report, quoted from the ACNA website.

In 2012 the College of Bishops appointed a Task Force on Holy Orders to provide the College with a scholarly and informed study on Holy Orders and, specifically, women in Holy Orders (the enabling resolution is reprinted in what follows). The Task Force, led by Bishop David Hicks, consisted of people representing differing perspectives and practices. They have met for the past 5 years and during that time have periodically released progress reports. This past January Bishop Hicks presented a report on the last phase of the process to the College, and we are now releasing the whole report to the Province.

You can download a PDF of the entire report by clicking here.

The report is quite long (318 pages). So, I’ve broken it up into shorter PDFS.

As you can tell from the list above, if you’d like to read the arguments for and against women’s ordination, check out section 4 on pages 257 to 311. You’ll also need to consult this 2003 AMIA Report on Women’s Ordination.

I highly recommend that you at least take the time to read Section 5, because it includes a final summary of the task force’s findings, including their recommendations to the College of Bishops.

Speaking of which, the College of Bishops issued a statement on the ordination of women on September 7, 2017.

A Statement from the ACNA College of Bishops on the Ordination of Women

Click here to see the original version of this on the ACNA website, which includes an introduction from Archbishop Foley Beach.

In the preamble to the statement, the Bishops say the following:

In an act of mutual submission at the foundation of the Anglican Church in North America, it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood. It was also unanimously agreed that women will not be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America. These positions are established within our Constitution and Canons and, because we are a conciliar Church, would require the action of both Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly to be changed.

Then, they proceed to the statement itself:

Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered the five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. However, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.

Finally, the Bishops state their commitments moving forward:

As a College of Bishops, we confess that our Province has failed to affirm adequately the ministry of all Christians as the basic agents of the work of the Gospel. We have not effectively discipled and equipped all Christians, male and especially female, lay and ordained, to fulfill their callings and ministries in the work of God’s kingdom. We repent of this and commit to work earnestly toward a far greater release of the whole Church to her God-given mission.

Having met in Conclave to pray, worship, study, talk, and listen well to one another, we commit to move forward in unity to carry on the good witness and work that God has given us to do in North America (Ephesians 4:1-6; John 17). We invite and urge all members of the Province to engage with us in this endeavor to grow in understanding the mission and ministry of all God’s people.

This statement was adopted unanimously by the ACNA College of Bishops in September 2017. It describes the current state of the issue in the ACNA.

What’s The ACNA’s Position on Women’s Ordination?

This question is included on the ACNA’s FAQ page. Here’s the answer:

At the inception of the Anglican Church in North America, the lead Bishops unanimously agreed to work together for the good of the Kingdom. As part of this consensus, it was understood that there were differing understandings regarding the ordination of women to Holy Orders, but there existed a mutual love and respect for one another and a desire to move forward for the good of the Church. This commitment was deeply embedded in the Constitution and Canons overwhelmingly adopted by the Inaugural Assembly (2009).

In respect of the two integrities concerning Holy Orders, three matters were specifically agreed in Constitution and Canons:

(1) The Province shall make no canon abridging the authority of any member dioceses, clusters or networks (whether regional or affinity-based) and those dioceses banded together as jurisdictions with respect to its practice regarding the ordination of women to the diaconate or presbyterate (Constitution, Article VIII)
(2) Except as hereinafter provided, the norms for ordination shall be determined by the Bishops having jurisdiction. (Title III Canon 1.4)
(3) To be a suitable candidate for the episcopate (bishop), a person must: Be a male Presbyter at least 35 years old. (Title III Canon 8.3.7)

Which ACNA Dioceses Do/Don’t Ordain Women?

To put some numbers to this debate, I’ve produced the following chart. The congregation/membership/attendance data comes from this 2018 report. Please let me know if you spot any errors!

Click the image below to view the most recent version of the spreadsheet on Google Sheets.


Bibliography for Further Study

If you’d like to do some more reading and research on this topic, then the Task Force Report has a very helpful annotated Bibliography for Further Study (pp. 300–11 of the Task Force Report).

Click the link above to download the PDF of just the bibliography. Otherwise, I’ve listed the works below, without the annotations/descriptions.

Note that I’m still trying to find links to everything. Amazon links below are all affiliate links.


Women’s Ordination from an Evangelical Perspective


Books in favor of Women’s Ordination

Collections of Essays

General Works on Women in the New Testament and the Early Church

Commentaries on I Corinthians (11:1-16 and 14:34-34)

Commentaries on I Timothy 2: 8-8-15


Books containing a variety of views

Collections of Essays


Books not in favor of women’s ordination

Collections of Essays

General Works on Women in the New Testament and the Early Church*

Works discussing Men’s and Women’s roles in the Church and Society

Works discussing relevant Scripture Passages

Studies and Articles


Women’s Ordination from an Anglo-catholic Perspective

General Anglican Sources


Catholic Perspective—Notable Sources


Ecumenical Sources


Catholic Perspective—Other Sources


Works Not Mentioned in the Task Force Report

What works would you add to this reading list?

What specific questions do you have?

18 comments

  1. In reading through all of this, I am left wondering if there is a way to know which Bishops of the ACNA actually DO support the ordination of women. I feel called to this vocation, but I don’t think I can pursue it where I am now (location-wise.)

    1. I was wondering the same thing. Since they did not respond on here to your question, I will send them a message on the site. Thanks for asking this question. I can see why the ACNA might not want to have a list somewhere because it could become an Us vs Them situation, but there has to be a way to find out without having to reach each diocese’s Canons. If I find out, I will report back here.

  2. What about the sermon series, “Fully Alive,” or parts of it? By Bishop Stewart Ruch and his wife Katherine Ruch. These can be found on Soundcloud, on the website of Church of the Resurrection, and (I think) on Vimeo.

  3. Thanks for the amazing amount of work put into this! Great list of sources.
    Proofreader’s note: should the section headings “Catholic Perspective – Notable Sources” and “Ecumenical Sources” be switched?

    1. Hi Victoria! Good instincts there, but these titles reproduce what’s in the Holy Orders Task Force Report, pp. 306–309. If I understand it correctly, “Catholic” refers not to “Roman Catholic,” but rather to the Anglo-Catholic perspective/arguments as outlined in the report (as opposed to the “evangelical” perspective/arguments, as the report names them). “Ecumenical” refers to “sources from outside of the Anglican Communion,” and therefore includes Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox sources in this case.

  4. Thanks, Fr. Joshua, for putting this together. It is most helpful in laying ground-work that will hopefully move the ball down the field, one way or the other, as the Lord leads. Obviously I am praying fervently for which direction I believe that ball needs to go, but such a good collection of resources will help it be with clarity and (God willing) unity either way.

  5. Hi Joshua. This is a great list! The best resource I know of on the scriptural basis for women’s leadership in the New Testament is http://margmowczko.com/ Just put any scriptural reference into her search bar for modern egalitarians’ thoughts on each verse. Mowczko has been working on these verses and topics for ten years and regularly updates each post of hers as new scholarship done.

  6. This really is a great collection of resources. Upon looking through it again, I’m now wondering if it would be possible to divide up, or somehow mark, the resources listed under the “Evangelical” heading according to whether the authors are Anglicans or not? This distinction is clearer under the “Anglo-Catholic” heading, and I appreciate it. Also, if an author was both Anglican and in favor of the traditional view of ordination, was he/she lumped in with the Anglo-Catholics? I know that in some cases that may be difficult to find out now. Thanks for your work on this site and page.

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