The annual meeting of the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which is part of the Anglican Communion, took place in Edinburgh between 10 and 12 June. One of the papers under consideration was a Gender Audit Report, presented to Synod by Dr Elaine Cameron, its principal author.
The document was prepared at the request of the 2009 Synod which was concerned to recognize its commitments to the United Nations’ 2000 Millennium Development Goals and to the Anglican Consultative Council Resolution 13.31 of 2005. Data were collected during the autumn of 2009 (including through a census of Scottish Episcopal congregations on Sunday, 22 November).
The report is available to download from:
Key findings include the following:
65% of communicants in the Scottish Episcopal Church are women, ranging from 61% in the City of Edinburgh and the Diocese of Aberdeen to 68% in the Dioceses of Argyll and Brechin.
62% of (non-communicant) adherents are women, varying from 60% in Edinburgh and the Diocese of Aberdeen to 64% in the Dioceses of Brechin and St Andrews.
63% of communicants and adherents combined were women in 2009, which was slightly higher than the 60% for Episcopal churchgoers at the 2002 Scottish church census (at that time the same figure as for all Scottish churchgoers).
Despite the preponderance of women in the pews, men still tend to dominate much of the administration of the Church, accounting for 89% of the membership of cathedral chapters, 85% of conveners of diocesan committees, 70% of stipendiary clergy, 68% of provincial boards and committees, 65% of vestry treasurers, 64% of the Theological Institute, 57% of lay readers and 55% of representatives to General Synod.
However, women do constitute 60% of the lay members of General Synod and 62% of the lay members of diocesan synods, the gender averages for these bodies being skewed by the male majorities among the clergy members. At vestry level there is also a preponderance of female secretaries (71%) and child protection officers (88%).
The report concludes that ‘gendered stereotypic assumptions still prevail’ in the Scottish Episcopal Church and makes several recommendations to promote gender equality, with a further gender audit suggested for November 2012.
One of the recommendations concerns the need for more gender-inclusive language in the liturgy, a topic which, according to the summary of the Synod’s deliberations given in the Church Times for 18 June, appears to have dominated the debate on the report.
A comparable gender audit in the Church in Wales was completed in June 2008.