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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleArchives of the Movement for the Ordination of Women
Ref No6MOW
Box Fetch NoBox TH186-Box TH188; Box TH420-Box TH422; Box TH697; Box TH700-Box TH819; Box TH823-Box TH870; Box THOS 2-4; OS45A; PC 6.7
Extent68 Boxes; 8 photographic albums; 1 oversize box; items in textile boxes and textile rail
Admin Biographical HistoryThe Movement for the Ordination of Women, aka MOW, was established in 1979 and terminated in 1994. Their main aim was to campaign for the ordination of women in the Anglican Churches of the British Isles as a fundamental part of the full expression of the Ministry of men and women in the church.

In 1975 the Sex Discrimination Act was passed by Parliament but excluded religious organisations. Nonetheless, the General Synod of the Church of England that year stated that it could find no fundamental objection to the principle of the ordination of women. An attempt to have the principle enacted at the Synod of 1978 failed as it was unable to achieve 2/3rds in the House of Clergy.

On 21 November in the same year, a meeting chaired by Dame Betty Ridley decided to set up a national movement to work for the ordination of women and subsequent meetings appointed a Working Group to prepare an initial plan. On 4th July 1979, in a meeting chaired by the Right Revd Ronald Bowlby the name and constitution were agreed, Moderators and Interim Committee appointed and the first subscriptions registered. MOW was therefore established.

The first moderator was the Rt Rev Stanley Booth-Clibborn, Bishop of Manchester, with Margaret Webster as the Executive Secretary. Monica Furlong followed him in 1982 with Dss Diana McClatchey being appointed moderator in 1985. The last moderator appointed was Revd Catherine Milford in 1988 who oversaw the last years of campaigning and the closure of MOW.

Under their leadership, the group produced a series of publications including study packs and occasional papers by theologians and members of the clergy. Members also took part in demonstrations in support of ordination. The first of these was held on 1st July 1980 during an ordination of male priests at St Paul's Cathedral when a banner was unfurled towards the end of the service. Other protests took the form of vigils outside services and the wearing of sashes and the 'walkout' conducted by 13 deaconesses from a ceremony at Southwark cathedral in July 1983. In 1984 700 priests and bishops signed an open letter to the Archbishops of York and Canterbury urging them to give a lead in the movement in advance of the Synod which was held in November 1984. There the Bishop of Southwark, Ronald Bowlby, gave the first speech in favour of the motion supporting the ordination of women. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke against the motion, while the Archbishop of York spoke in its favour. In the end, the motion was carried with 307 votes against 183. In July 1985 it was accepted that women could be ordained as deacons, a decision which was ratified by parliament in 1987.

The campaign to admit women to the full priesthood continued in 1986 with the launch of 'Chrysalis', the journal of MOW and a national pilgrimage which converged on Christ College, Canterbury for the 'Joining Hands' conference in June 1986. However, 1986 was also the year in which opposition to the Movement began to become more organised, finding a voice through the establishment of mirror organisations such as the Association for an Apostolic Ministry the following year. Furthermore, the McLean report commissioned by the Church of England in 1986 and the follow-up issued the following year by the House of Bishops both emphasised the possibility that the Episcopal Church would be split in two by the ordination of women and that large numbers of clergy would leave if women priests were permitted.

MOW gave and received support to and from other organisations in the field such as the St Hilda Community which was founded in East London in 1989, whose founders included Monica Furlong, to promote inclusive language in the liturgy and support women's ministry. The Community organised 'illegal' Eucharist ceremonies, presided over by women priests from abroad.

In recognition of the support a large number of male clergy, MOW merged with Priests for Women's Ordination in 1991. The General Synod, the legislative body of the Church of England, voted on 11 November 1992 to admit women to the priesthood and the first women were ordained in Bristol on 12 March 1994. The Movement for the Ordination of Women (MOW) was subsequently renamed National Watch (Women and the Church) at a meeting on the 9 Nov 1996 and a revised set of aims were formulated, including promoting women bishops in the church, improvements in women's situation generally in the church including promoting a positive attitude to questions of sexuality.

Prior to have women successfully ordained priests, MOW also supported and campaigned for the Deacons (Ordination of Women) Measure which allowed women to enter Holy Orders. The measure passed in General Synod in 1986. The Archbishop of Canterbury ordained the first 15 women Deacon in February 1987.

Initially MOW operated from an office in Blackfriars Lane and then, in May 1980, moved permanently to Napier Hall in central London. Two joint secretaries coordinated activities amongst the Moderators, Central Council, Specialist Groups and Local Branches.

Activities coordinated and promoted by MOW included conferences, exhibitions, surveys of intention to vote, special events including religious services, vigils, gatherings and lobbying campaigns. Specialist groups were mainly responsible for commissioning publications and ephemera, writing press releases and dealing with the media.

The controversial legislations, Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure and Ordination of Women (Financial Provisions) Measure, were passed by the General Synod in 1992 and they were granted Royal Assent on 5 November 1993. The ordination of the first 32 women took place in a ceremony at Bristol Cathedral on 12 March 1994.

After consultation with its members, MOW's activities ceased and terminated on 31 July 1994. It was subsequently renamed National Watch (Women and the Church) at a meeting on 9th November 1996 and a revised set of aims were formulated, including promoting women bishops in the church, improvements in women's situation generally in the church, including promoting a positive attitude to questions of sexuality.
DescriptionThe archive consists of various committee minutes and papers, financial papers, membership lists, papers of conferences and especial events, correspondence, reports and publications, papers of local branches, papers of moderators, audio-visual material, lectures and lecture notes, publicity material, photographs and objects.
Please note The Women's Library Printed Collection includes the following newsletters issued by MOW which are available for research:

Movement for the Ordination of Women newsletter: No1 (Oct/Nov 1979) - no. 10 (Autumn 1982); Oct 1983; Feb 1984; Jun 1984; Oct 1984; Feb 1985; Jun 1985; Nov 1985

Chrysalis: Women and Religion: Feb 1986; Jun 1986; Feb 1987-Jul 1992; Jan 1993; Jul 1993; Jan-Jul 1994; Special Lambeth edition (1988)

Abbreviations used in archive:
AAM - Association for an Apostolic Ministry
ACS - Additional Curates Society
AEO - Alternative Episcopal Oversight
AGET - Anglican Group Educational Trust

CFW - Concern for Family and Womanhood
CoC - Cost of Conscience
CinD - Church in Danger
CU - Church Union
CWO - Catholic Women's Ordination
MCU - Modern Churchpeoples Union
MOW - Movement for the Ordination of Women
PWO - Priests for Women's Organisation
NAWO - National Alliance of Women's Organisations
WAOW - Women Against the Ordination of Women
Related MaterialThe Women's Library also holds:
Records of St Joan's International Alliance (2SJA)
Records of the Anglican Group for the Ordination of Women to the Historic Ministry of the Church, (5AGO)
Records of the Catholic Women's Ordination (5RCW)
Records of the Society for the Ministry of Women in the Church (5SMW)
Records of Women Word Spirit (5WWS)
Papers of Agnes Maude Royden (7AMR)
Papers of Dame Christian Howard (7DCH)
Papers of Dorothea Edith Belfield (7DEB)
Papers of Everild Feeny (7EMF)
Papers of Olwen Smith (7OLS)
Papers of Phyllis Forman (7PHF)
Papers of Ursula Roberts (7URO)
Papers of Vivienne Lake (7VEL)
Papers of Victoria Liddiard (7VLI)
The Women's Library printed collection also holds periodicals for the relevant organisations and some press cuttings relating to women's ordination (c.1919-1950), search LSE 'LibrarySearch'.
Gladstone's Library holds a collection of papers donated by Janet Fyfe in 1994 relating to the 1993 discernment interviews in Manchester diocese for women deacons who hoped to be ordained as priests.
Related Record5AGO
Access StatusAdvance Ordering Required
Access ConditionsThis collection is catalogued and mainly open. The following files are closed under Data Protection Act, however access can be arranged to legitimate researchers under the Section 33 of Data Protection Act: 6MOW/10/1, 6MOW/10/2, 6MOW/12/12, 6MOW/12/13 and 6MOW/20/1.
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