The House of Bishops is one of the three Houses of the
General Synod. All members of the House of Bishops are
members of the General Synod. The House of Bishops also meets
separately from the Synod to discuss issues of episcopal ministry,
mission and national issues affecting the Church of England.
There are two types of bishop in the Church of England:
- Diocesan bishops are the chief pastors of their diocese.
An Archbishop is a diocesan bishop who has pastoral responsibility
not only over his diocese, but also over a collection of dioceses
called a province.
- Other bishops - primarily
suffragan bishops but also some assistant bishops - are
appointed to work with a diocesan bishop in the exercise of their
pastoral responsibility for the diocese. Four suffragan
bishops are Provincial Episcopal Visitors (also known as 'flying
bishops') with a special responsibility to support parishes that
have petitioned under the
Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993.
meeting of 7 February 2013 the House decided that eight senior
women clergy, elected regionally, will participate in all meetings
of the House until such time as there are six female members of the
House. The necessary changes to the House's Standing Orders
were made at its meeting in May 2013.
Click here to see the final regional election results.
All serving bishops in the Church of England comprise a body
known as the College of Bishops.
The House of Bishops consists of the following members of the
College of Bishops:
- all 42 diocesan bishops of the Church of England (which
includes the offshore dioceses of Sodor & Man and Gibraltar in
- the Bishop of Dover (who performs many of the Archbishop of
Canterbury's diocesan functions);
- the Bishop to the Forces; and
- seven suffragan bishops elected from among the total number of
suffragan bishops, (four from the Province of Canterbury, and three
from the Province of York).
- 8 regional representatives elected by and from senior women
The four Provincial Episcopal Visitors can also attend and speak
at meetings of the House, though are not members and do not have
voting rights (unless they are elected to the House as a suffragan
Meetings of the House
In addition to meeting as part of the General Synod the House of
Bishops meets normally twice a year in May and December. A
Summary of Decisions from these meetings is normally published
on this website at the time that papers are circulated for the
following session of General Synod. Additional meetings of
the House may be called on an ad hoc basis.
The House issues guidance from time to time on a range of
topics. A selection of this guidance can be found on
the right-hand side of this page.
Under Article 7 of the Constitution of the General Synod, the
House has a special role in relation to matters involving doctrine,
liturgy or the Sacraments. It has the right to amend
legislation which relates to doctrine, liturgy or the Sacraments as
it sees fit, before such legislation is put before the Synod for
The College of Bishops has an annual residential meeting in
September. Every three years, the bishops of the Church in Wales,
the Church of Ireland and the Episcopal Church of Scotland are
invited. A one-day meeting in held in January.
A further 24 hour residential meeting of diocesan bishops
together with the archbishops is held shortly after Easter. There
are also eight regional groups of bishops, which include all
diocesans and suffragans within the region. These meet
independently of the House two/three times a year, and are convened
by a bishop within the region.
The House of Bishops' Standing Committee
The House has a Standing Committee of eight members which meets
at least three times a year under the Chairmanship of the
Archbishop of York. The Standing Committee's role is to set
the agendas for meetings of the House of Bishops, represent the
House in discussions with other denominations and deal with certain
matters on behalf of the House.
The Standing Committee comprises eight members who are
determined as follows (current appointments are marked in
(i) the two bishops elected as members of the
Archbishops' Council on the
basis that one of them serves as
Business Committee Chair; or
(ii) if that is not the case one of the Council bishops and the
on to the Business Committee
the Bishop of Rochester and the
A number of time-limited Working Parties or Sub-Groups may also
be set up from time to time to consider particular matters on
behalf of the House. Recent examples were:
The Secretary General is Secretary to the House. Other
staff from the Central Secretariat in Church House, Westminster,
who specifically serve the House are:
Jacqui Philips, Clerk to the Synod and Director of Central
Andrew Brown, Head of Events (for the House of Bishops and
Iain Blythe, Administrator
Telephone: 020 7898 1365