England- The Church of England has named vicar Libby Lane as its first woman bishop, following a historic change in its rules.
Bishop Lane was yesterday named as the next bishop of Stockport, in a dramatic new step for England’s state church after years of wrangling and division over the move.
“It is an unexpected joy for me to be here today,” Bishop Lane said after being named in Stockport, a town outside Manchester in northwest England.
“It’s a remarkable day for me and I realise a historic day for the church. I’m honoured and thankful to be called to serve as the next bishop of Stockport and excited, though not a little daunted, to be trusted with such a ministry,” she added.
The mother church of the global Anglican Communion, which has around 85 million followers in more than 165 countries, gave its final approval to the change last month.
Other churches in the communion already have female bishops.
The Church of England backed the introduction of female priests in 1992 and the first were appointed two years later. They now make up one-third of the clergy.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s Downing Street office announced that Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Church, had approved Bishop Lane’s nomination.
“I would like to congratulate Elizabeth Lane on her appointment as Suffragan See of Stockport and in doing so becoming the first woman bishop in the Church,” Mr Cameron said in a statement.
“This is a historic appointment and an important step forward for the Church towards greater equality in its senior positions.”
He added that the government would bring forward legislation this week that would allow women bishops to sit in parliament’s upper House of Lords.
In July the Church of England overcame bitter divisions on Monday to vote in favour of allowing female bishops for the first time in its nearly 500-year history.
The decision reverses a previous shock rejection in 2012 and comes after intensive diplomacy by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
However, the Church of England has in the recent past faced stiff resistance in some of its decisions, including a recent one that allowed the ordination of gay bishops.
The decision to ordain gay bishops was widely criticised by conservatives, including the Church of Uganda.
Church of Uganda’s take
Church of Uganda (CoU) said the decision by its counterpart in England to ordain female bishops shall not affect it. Speaking to Daily Monitor in July, Canon Amos Magezi, the Church of Uganda Provincial secretary, said whereas they have no objection to women holding leadership roles, decisions made by the Church of England do not necessarily apply to CoU because it is an independent body.
“A very good example I can give is when the Church of England announced that gay clergy will be allowed to become ordained as bishops, the Church of Uganda on the other hand opposed it,” he said.
But the Rev Solomon Nkesiga, a member of the CoU constitutional review committee, said this is a positive step geared towards the understanding of the Christian ministry where women are given equal opportunities as men in the church.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor