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Church of England To Appoint First Woman Bishop, Rev. Libby Lane

( [email protected] ) Dec 18, 2014 04:19 PM EST
The Church of England has appointed its first woman bishop in history as Rev. Libby Lane is scheduled to become the Bishop of Stockport on January 26, 2015.
Rev. Libby Lane will be appointed the Church of England's first woman bishop in January. Photo: BBC

The Church of England has appointed its first woman bishop in history as Rev. Libby Lane is scheduled to become the Bishop of Stockport on January 26, 2015.

"I am grateful for, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester," Rev. Lane said after the announcement made by Downing Street this week. "This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be Bishop, 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.

"The church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the Good News of Jesus and to build His Kingdom," she continued. "The Church of England is called to serve all the people of this country, and being present in every community, we communicate our faith best when our lives build up the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable. I am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead."

Rev. Libby Lane is currently the vicar of St Peter's, Hale, and St. Elizabeth's Ashley in the Chester diocese and was one of the first women to be ordained as a priest in 1994. Her husband George is also a priest at the Manchester Airport, which makes the duo one of the first clerical couples in the church. Lane came to the attention of senior bishops as one of only eight women possible to fill the bishop role.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, will be presiding over the concescration ceremony in January, according to an announcement made this week.

"Libby brings a wealth of experience in parish ministry, in hospital and FE chaplaincy, in vocations work and the nurture of ordinands," he said. "I am delighted that she will exercise her episcopal ministry with joy, prayerfulness, and trust in God.

"When the General Synod rejected the previous proposals in November 2012, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, wrote to 'pour some balm' on my wounded heart. That year, he encouraged me, his province was finally celebrating the election of two women bishops. 'Be comforted', he said, 'it will come.'

"When I wrote to him last weekend to offer my prayers for his battle with prostate cancer, he replied with these words: 'Wonderful that you over there will soon have women bishops. Yippee! I know you have pushed for this for a long time. Yippee again!'

"Praise be to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all in England!"

The General Synod officially voted to allow women to become bishops of the church in July of 2014.

The Archbishop of Centerbury, Justin Welby, expanded on Archbishop Sentamu's comments with his own support. "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.

"She will be bishop in a diocese that has been outstanding in its development of people, and she will make a major contribution. She and her family will be in my prayers during the initial excitement, and the pressures of moving."

Rev. Rosie Harper, chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson commented on her Facebook page about her excitement especially for the fact that Lane is the first woman bishop. "All the very best to her - she'll be under the spotlight! Only took 2,000 years. Roll on the time when other issues of equality are also addressed."