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Friday, 13 July 2012

Iceland consecrates its first woman bishop

Photo: Church of Iceland

The Church of England is still seeking a way forward on the matter of the ordination of women to the episcopate, attending both to the majority in the Church who wish to proceed, and the minority who wish an assured place in the Church despite not being able to accept this development. 

Meanwhile, in Churches with which we are in communion, women bishops are becoming more and more a normal aspect of Church life. In the Churches which have signed the Porvoo Agreement, with whom the Church of England is in communion, the Swedish, Finnish, Danish and Norwegian Churches already have women bishops (and in Norway, the Presiding Bishop, or Primate, is a woman). And on 24 June, the new bishop of Iceland, also a woman, was consecrated, Bishop Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir. The service of consecration was held in the magnificent Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík with 11 bishops and archbishops from neighbouring countries present, including the Bishop of Sodor and Man, from the Church of England.  

Bishop Agnes, in the sermon at her consecration, addressed the need to strengthen and rebuild the membership of the Church: "Those who have left the Church in recent years have chosen to do so for various reasons. Now we need to set the goal to increase Church membership and find ways to do so. We need to be like the shepherd who seeks or the woman who searches. They looked until they found and so we should also do".  

Close to 80% of the population of Iceland belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland. There are 280 congregations around the country and close to 160 priests and deacons. The website of the Church is here.

The Diocese in Europe has one congregation in Iceland, in Reykjavik, which also meets in the Hallgrímskirkja. The priest is the Revd Bjarni Bjarnason, an Icelandic priest, who has permission to minister to the Anglican congregation, under the provisions of the Porvoo Agreement.

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