CofE priest shadows Episcopal bishops

The Rev. Sue Pinnington is on a five-week mission to compile a job description for a post she’s currently not able to have: bishop.

Pennington, a priest in the Church of England, is in the US observing Bishops in action to develop models for how women will serve as Bishops when that comes to pass in her own church.


Both women said it was most important for Budde to show Pinnington the “bread and butter work” of a bishop, even though Pinnington’s Church of England does not allow women to serve as bishops — at least not yet.

“The Church of England is about to have women bishops in the next 18 months to two years, and we don’t have any clear models of how a female bishop might look,” said Pinnington, 47, the leader of St. Michael and All Angels, a parish in Houghton-le-Spring that has existed for more than 1,000 years.

She’s watched closely as Budde has visited various churches in the Washington region and incorporated Scripture in her meetings with her staff at the diocesan headquarters.

“She gets people to contribute and she actively builds a sense of community,” Pinnington said of Budde.

The two women talked about the informal mentorship in Budde’s spacious office in the shadow of the cathedral, 20 years to the day that the Church of England ordained its first female priest. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of women’s ordination in the Episcopal Church, when the so-called “Philadelphia 11” broke official church rules to become the first female priests in the U.S. church.

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