Records of the Anglican Group for the Ordination of Women to the Historic Ministry of the Church

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of minutes of annual meetings (1933-1969) and of Executive Committee Meetings (1954-1975), press cuttings (1928-1978), papers and memoranda (1932-1933).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Anglican Group for the Ordination of Women (1930-1978) began after a call for evidence on women and the ministry went out as in the run up to the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops in 1930. Its immediate stated aim was: 1) to give effect to the injunction of the Archbishop of Canterbury that the church should be provided with material "which would compel the serious consideration of [the ordination of women] in a manner worthy of its importance" and 2) to provide opportunities of contact for women who believe themselves called to the ministry. However, the working group's evidence was rejected by the Conference. Consequently, the ad hoc group was re-established as an ongoing organisation from 1931. Their subsequent aims, as outlined in 1935, were: 1) To uphold the Christian principle of spiritual equality between men and women; 2) to draw attention to the growing need for the admission of women to the [...] ministry of the Church and 3) to bring together and support those women who believe themselves to be called to holy orders. At this point, as throughout its existence, the group was solely concerned with the ordination of women in the Church of England, although later they would work with other non-denominational groups such as the Society for the Ministry of Women in the Church. Membership of the organisation was open to all baptised Anglicans over the age of 18 and it was financed by donation rather than by subscription. Business and policy making was in the hands of the Annual General Meeting, where the annual report was received and officers and the Executive Committee elected (the first annual meeting was held Mar 1933). The group held intermittent public meetings throughout the 1930s and went into complete abeyance during the Second World War. The first post-war AGM was held in 1946 but the organisation's impetus had dissipated and only three general meetings were held between 1949 and 1957. During the early part of the Fifties, the organisation abstained from any activity that might create a debate on the issue of the ordination of women in the Church of England, confining their work to research and education. However, the outcome of this, in 1955, was the submission of a report that recommended that women should be allowed to conduct statutory services (though not communion). The church once more rejected this in May 1956 and this rejection led to a resurgence of activity, as the group began to publicise its existence through letters to the Times newspaper. The following year the constitution was changed once again. This time its objectives were 1) to secure ordination of women to all orders of the Church of England; 2) promote equality between men and women in the offices and the affairs of the Anglican Church; 3) assist women in theological study and 4) to undertake all lawful activities to promote the previous points. Throughout the 1960s their efforts were concentrated on raising awareness of the issue in the media through contacts with the press and publications of titles such as Women's Work in the Church of England. However, the organisation was finally would up in the mid-1970s.

Conditions Governing Access

Gift

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Deposited in 1965 and Feb 1987 by Deaconess D McClatchey on behalf of the Anglican Group for the Ordination of Women.

5AGO/C - These records were found in a red press-cuttings box labelled 'Women in the Church' during the Fawcett Library Conservation Survey of 1993/1994, when the decision was taken to add them to 5AGO. They were probably presented to the Library by Mrs Ursula Roberts in Jan 1965.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library also hold the Records of the Society for the Ministry of Women in the Church (5SMW); Records of the Movement for the Ordination of Women (6MOW); the Papers of Ursula Roberts Women (7URO), including correspondence from her work for 5AGO; the Papers of Everild Feeny (7EMF); the Papers of Mairin Valdez (7MAV); and the Papers of Victoria Lidiard (7VLI).

There are also some press cuttings (c.1919-1950) in The Printed Collections.