The Society or, more fully, The Society under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda, is an association within the Church of England. It defines itself as “an ecclesial body, led by a Council of Bishops”. Its stated purposes are: “to promote and maintain catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England; to provide episcopal oversight to which churches, institutions and individuals will freely submit themselves; and “to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which they can have confidence”.
Plans for creation of The Society were announced on 24 September 2010 by a group of bishops of the Church of England who do not ordain women to the priesthood, in preparation for the new situation that would arise following the ordination of women to the episcopate. The Council of Bishops began to meet regularly in 2013. In 2014 its members appointed a Bishop’s Representative for each Church of England diocese. Registration of priests as Priests of The Society began in the autumn of 2014.