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Church of England names first woman bishop
From the Financial Times of Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:03:03 GMT
Libby Lane, a suffragan (Assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester, speaks after her forthcoming appointment as the new Bishop of Stockport was announced in the Town Hall in Stockport, northern England December 17, 2014©Reuters

The Church of England has announced its first appointment of a female bishop, naming Cheshire vicar the Reverend Libby Lane as the new Bishop of Stockport, 20 years after it first ordained a female priest.

The issue, which had divided the church, was finally voted through earlier this year after original proposals were defeated by the laity in 2012, and is symbolic of wider change in the church under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Ms Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994, and was one of eight female clergy to have been elected as participant observers in the House of Bishops. In a statement, she said she was “grateful, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester”.

She will be consecrated as the eighth bishop of Stockport at a ceremony in York Minster on 26 January next year. The general synod voted to introduce female bishops in July, and formally adopted the legislation in November

Describing the announcement as “a historic day for the Church of England” she added: “I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God.”

In a speech made at the town hall in Stockport on Wednesday shortly after her appointment was announced, she appeared to address those who were opposed to female bishops by saying that Christmas was a time for “pondering unexpected joy”.

Stating that she recognised that change could be distressing, and that the unexpected was often feared, she added that the unexpected message of Christmas — “that God should make himself known to us as a baby in Bethlehem” — should bring “not fear, but joy”, repeating the message delivered by the angels to the shepherds of “do not be afraid”.

“I will be praying that the unexpected heralds great joy,” she added.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “”I am absolutely delighted that Libby has been appointed to succeed Bishop Robert Atwell as Bishop of Stockport. Her Christ-centred life, calmness and clear determination to serve the church and the community make her a wonderful choice.”

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