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Norfolk vicar: I cannot accept a female bishop

Tue 05 Feb 2019
By Alex Williams

A Church of England vicar from Norfolk says the appointment of a female bishop to oversee his local diocese is something he could not accept.

Fr Howard Stoker, the rector of Holt with High Kelling, wrote to his congregations as a selection process to appoint a new Bishop of Norwich draws near.

The note, which was seen by the BBC, said he - as well as fellow members of the clergy and church-goers - could not "fully accept" having a woman successor to Rt Rev Graham James, who retired last November.


Fr Howard wrote: "If a woman bishop were to succeed Bishop Graham, there would be those clergy and members of our congregations who, unfortunately, would not be unable to accept and receive her sacramental ministry.

"If we wait until an announcement... then our response becomes personal and ungracious."

Diocese of Norwich


According to the letter, the Parochial Church Council for Holt with High Kelling is split over the issue and a vote is due to be held on Monday 18th February.

The Church of England has allowed women bishops since 2014.


While organisations such as Women and the Church affirm women bishops, their appointments have been opposed by conservative elements of the Church of England.

Under Church rules, Fr Howard could ask that a male bishop conduct certain parish duties, in the event a female candidate is selected.



Such provisions came into play when Bishop Sarah Mullally was announced Bishop of London, with Rt Rev Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone, overseeing some churches.

Premier has contacted Fr Howard and the Diocese of Norwich for a comment.

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