Women’s Representation in the Church in Wales

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales met at the University of Wales, Trinity St David on 21 and 22 September 2011.

One of the items on its agenda was a report from Dr Gill Todd of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon on the representation of women in the Church, charting the Church’s progress in implementing the recommendations of a working group she had chaired on the same subject in 2008, which had been endorsed by the Governing Body in that year. The 2011 report and appendices can be found at:


The following table has been compiled from Appendices 2, 3 and 5 in the report to show how the percentage of women at various levels of governance of the Church in Wales has changed between 2008 and 2011:

   2008   2011 
 Governing Body



 Representative Body



 Bishops’ staff



 Diocesan Boards of Finance






 Parochial church council secretaries



 Parochial church council treasurers



 Senior clergy (area deans to bishops)  



 Stipendiary clergy



 Non-stipendiary clergy




It will be seen that, while the representation of women in the Church in Wales has generally improved over this triennium, there have been some reversals (in respect of members of Diocesan Boards of Finance and churchwardens), and that the proportion of women fluctuates widely dependent upon the office. There are no recent data on the gender profile of Church in Wales congregations, but in the 1995 Welsh Churches Survey they were 68% female, and the figure is unlikely to be less now.

The Governing Body also debated the annual report on membership and finance, for 2010. This has not yet been posted on the Church’s website, but a summary of the General Body’s discussion of the document – on page 7 of the Church Times for 30 September 2011 – indicates that the news on this front is not good.

Richard Jones, Diocesan Stewardship Adviser for Llandaff, is quoted by the newspaper as saying that membership and average attendance statistics are now at ‘critical levels’, undermining the ability to maintain diocesan and parish organizations, church buildings, ministry, and staffing structures. The report showed an ‘alarming rate of decline’, he added, with a 5% drop in Easter communicants and average attendances, and significant decreases in attendances by young people, baptisms and confirmations.    

As for finance, Lord Rowe-Beddoe, Chairman of the Representative Body, noted that the net income of the Representative Body had dropped from £19 million in 2008 to £15.2 million in 2009 to £14.6 million in 2010, underlining the serious impact of the credit crunch. He forecast that the Church faced the prospect of a ‘significant deficit of between £1 million and £2 million per annum, for a number of years to come’. 

Although the fall in income may have been exacerbated by the economic recession, the downward spiral in Church in Wales membership indicators is more longstanding, as demonstrated in our coverage of the 2004-09 data this time last year. See:


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