Twenty years after women were ordained as priests, the Church of England is set to appoint its first woman bishop by year’s end or at the start of 2015.
On Nov. 17, the church’s two most senior leaders, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu, signed the change into church, or canon, law after asking the General Synod, made up of bishops, clergy and laity, to signal their approval by a show of hands.
The shattering of what’s called “the Church of England’s stained-glass window” marks the culmination of years of campaigning for reform.
In July, the synod, voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation to create women bishops.
Hilary Cotton, chairwoman of Women and the Church, an advocacy organization, told reporters she is now hopeful the reform will lead to “changing the culture of the church.”
U.S.–born Christian Rees, a member of the synod’s House of Laity, said the Nov. 17 ceremony would change the public perception that the Church of England has “a problem with women.”
While Christians waited to learn whether the Church of England would approve the consecration of women bishops, the church’s governing body — the General Synod — quietly voted to drop all future references to the devil in a new baptism service.
In the traditional service, godparents are asked whether they are ready to renounce the devil and all his works for the sake of the child being baptized.
After 20 years of turmoil and angry debate, on Monday the General Synod of the Church of England said “yes” to women bishops.
The first could be named by the end of the year with the appointment of at least three additional women sometime in 2015, say senior church officials.
The General Synod is the three-tier governing body of the Church of England and it is made up of bishops, clergy, and laity.
At a meeting in York, the General Synod gave final approval to legislation introducing the changes by the required two-thirds majority.
Overall 351 members of the 433 Synod voted in favor of the measure.
The Church of England’s governing body has approved new proposals that would allow women bishops to be ordained by this time next year.
Meeting in London on Wednesday, the church’s General Synod passed a motion by 378-8, with 25 abstentions, that paves the way for the endorsement of women bishops. Bishops also approved a declaration that sets out guidance for parishes that reject female consecrations.
The package would end nearly two decades of bitter and damaging conflict, and the vote is a victory of sorts for the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was appointed last year just as the General Synod came within six votes of allowing women bishops.
CANTERBURY, England — When the Church of England scuttled plans to allow women bishops on Nov. 20, incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called it “a very grim day for women and their supporters.”
Now, that grim day is turning into a church-state nightmare for Britain's established church.
On Monday, The Times of London quoted from a leaked memo to church leaders from William Fittall, secretary general of the General Synod, who called the public and political fallout "severe."