I am an Anglican Priest, who is a member of the Episcopal team in the Diocese of Auckland, New Zealand, as the full time Archdeacon of the central Auckland region. I have been in this role for since 2011, and I enjoy the many opportunities I have had to experience ministry and worship in different contexts across the city. My major focus is to support ministry development and to enable more effective ministry and mission in Auckland, as well as offer advice and pastoral support of those in licensed ministry. For the past eight years I have been a guest lecturer in liturgy at St John’s Theological College, and I am also part of the Bishop’s Ministry Advisory team who interview and recommend candidates for ministry selection in the Diocese of Auckland
I am also the Convenor of General Synod Centre for Anglican Women’s Studies. This Centre is a General Synod initiative set up to serve and to advance the interests and needs of the women of our Church, particularly those undertaking theological training. Our projects include mentoring programmes for newly ordained women, networking and regular newsletters and communication to women of our church, encouraging women to publish and share resources which includes the Council publishing a book annually, and organising a hui (gathering) for ordained women across Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
I think that the biggest challenge for women in our church is to continue to remind the wider church about our mission to respond to the poor, the alienated and all those who struggle. Often women are the ones who do the actual work in the midst of those in pain, and to tell and value their stories as part of the wider story is vital. There is also a need for good women role models in leadership, and we seem to be struggling in our church for women to be nurtured and elected into leadership positions. There is still work to be done in terms of attitudes toward women in leadership, as well as support and valuing our contribution.
May our journey together be full of hope and inspiration as we experience Christ amongst us in love, compassion and restoration.
Carole Hughes introduces the Women in Leadership Course in the Diocese of Auckland, 2016
The Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is probably regarded as being at the forefront of women's progress in the Church. On the surface if one is simply to take uncritical statistical evidence as a measure of progress then it would appear that great strides have been made. There are indeed many women, both lay and ordained, who hold leadership positions across the spectrum of church activities. However, the last statistical research by the General Synod Council for Anglican Studies shows that there is still a wide gap between men and women who are in key leadership and governance positions.
In local church contexts there are many women who lead, advocate, teach, mentor, network and give of themselves. I am the convener of the General Synod Council for Anglican Studies. The Council comprises of women representatives from each cultural strand (tikanga), and together we encourage women to engage in theological education and to support one another in putting themselves forward for governing and leadership roles within our Church. Women’s voices are needed in leadership more than ever, and now. The Council publishes women’s writings, including an annual book and a monthly magazine. We offer mentoring programmes, run a training programme once a year, and encourage networking and advocacy for and with women across our Church.
Overcoming patriarchy! The greatest obstacle to most women is still that of overcoming either their own fears and doubts derived from living uncritically with patriarchy or it is the actual day to day lived experience of having to struggle against patriarchy. Both in turn are equally debilitating.
Violence against women and children is a huge issue for women across our islands, and we are promoting awareness and theological education in this area. One in four women experience abuse within their lifetime. Child poverty is also a huge social concern. Many children are deprived of food, and healthy living conditions.
Other issues include how we get women on to the decision making bodies to ensure that women offer perspectives on social policies and action plans. Women across the Church recognise the need to get more equal representation of women and men on councils and in leadership roles, including getting women from our islands represented in the House of Bishops. How we bring about institutional changes that ensure different leadership styles are embraced, is another social issue that women are raising.
The visions for women in the Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia are broad and far reaching. There is a strong vision related to addressing issues of gender justice, and more specifically about prevention of abuse and violence against women. We seek a church that leads by example, and recognises and celebrates women’s contribution and leadership. Our vision is that there will be just as many leaders who are women role models, as there are men, for the next generations.
The vision is that women are included and valued in all aspects of community life, reflected in language, theology, educational opportunities, leadership positions, liturgical expression, social policies, and care of family.
The women in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have in the past been well represented at all levels of the Church's decision-making bodies. However, as outlined above, over the past five years there has been a decline in representation. Out of the 27 General Synod councils, committees and commissions, only two groups are convened by women and the rest have male conveners, and all groups are dominated by male membership with the exception of the Council for Anglican Women Studies.
A motion at General Synod 2014, entitled Representation of Women (SR49) was unanimously passed stating that ‘the General Synod encourages Tikanga and Episcopal, and parochial units to give effect to this goal, the Millennium Development Goal of equal representation of women and men in decision making at all levels – when electing or appointing representatives to governing and consultative bodies in this Church and beyond’ and also amended it to add ‘inclusion of equal representation in liturgical leadership and leadership of official gatherings of this Church is also a goal’
Deacons: Since 1977
Priests: Since 1977. Many hundreds of ordained women.
Bishops: Since 1990. Three: one retired, two elected in 2008 and 2014. (Currently 2 women bishops out of 16 bishops)