The Church of England took the historic, if overdue step of appointing its first female bishop in its 500-year history on Wednesday, a month after a long and drawn out change to canon law. A synod vote in July backed plans for female bishops in July and became formally accepted legislation on November 17.
Reverend Libby Lane will become the new Bishop of Stockport, a post that was vacant since May. As Bishop of Stockport, Lane will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop to the Diocese of Chester. Lane’s new role will officially began after her consecration as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minster on Monday 26 January 2015.
The development will help lessen the male grip on church leadership and comes 20 years after women became priests.
Mrs Lane was ordained in 1994 and her husband is also an Anglican priest. Her official biography covers a range of interests including “learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords.”
Her first act was a lead a prayer for the victims of the horrific school massacre in Peshawar, Pakistan.
In a press release, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, 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.”
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “Congratulations to Revd Libby Lane on becoming the first woman bishop in the Church. An historic appointment and important day for equality.”
Legislation to allow female bishops into the House of Lords enters parliament this week but Mrs Lane’s junior appointment potentially prohibits a further advancement.
Globally there are 29 Anglican women bishops and with vacancies popping up in areas like Gloucester and Oxford – we may yet see the figure increase.
But we wish Mrs Lane the very best in her historic new role.