REX/Eddie Mulholland
 By Desmond Busteed

Up to a tenth of the Church of England and 300 congregations still cannot accept the authority of women bishops, according to the new Bishop of Maidstone.

Last week Revd Prebendary Rod Thomas was given the post specifically to minister to members of the growing conservative evangelical wing of the Church, who oppose women in leading roles within the Church.

“I was asked to estimate how many people would be likely to share my theological convictions on the issue of women in ministry, and I said it could be any number and I was just going to have to guess,” said Revd Prebendary Rod Thomas on Premier’s News Hour.

The reason I mentioned those figures was because something like ten per cent of the members of the General Synod are either members of reform or are in sympathy with its position on this, and that seems to reflect the sort of attendance throughout the Church of England,” he added.

Bishop Rod-elect, who is chairman of Reform, an Anglican organisation which has campaigned against women bishops has vowed to protect those in the Church who have conservative views on the issue.

“I am very keen indeed to ensure that conservative evangelical congregations work within their dioceses, play a full part in the life of their dioceses.

“And where they can’t accept women bishops, still never-the-less play a full part, even if they have to have special arrangements for their oversight.”

The Bishop of Stockport, Rt Revd Libby Lane was the first woman to be appointed as a bishop by the Church of England, after its General Synod voted overwhelming in July 2014 to allow women to become bishops.