Sunday, 25 January 2015

New era for Church of England as first female bishop sanctified

Rev Libby Lane says: ‘It is a remarkable thing that his happens to be me but this is about a moment in history’  The Church of England is marking a new era in its history as the Rev Libby Lane becomes the first woman to be ordained as a bishop.

More than 100 members of the episcopate from England and other parts of the worldwide Anglican Church will lay hands on the 48-year-old vicar from Hale, Greater Manchester, to formally consecrate her during a service at York Minster.
 The Rev Libby Lane is to become the UK's first bishop Photo: Eddie Mulholland/The Telegraph
The Rev Libby Lane is to become the UK's first bishop Photo: Eddie Mulholland/The Telegraph
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu will anoint her with oil in an ancient tradition tracing its origins to the prophets of the Old Testament.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, will also be present, alongside female bishops from churches in other parts of the world.

The consecration marks the conclusion of a decades-long wrangle over the role of women in leadership in the established Church, the last great institution of British public life to open itself to full gender equality.

Church leaders hope it will mark a moment of reconciliation between traditionalists and reformers on the issue.

But divisions remain close to the surface, as seen last week during a row over who would participate in the symbolic laying on of hands at the consecration of a traditionalist male bishop due to be ordained in York next month.

In a service rich in symbolism, Rev Lane will be presented with a Bible and a bishop’s staff, made by a craftsman in Gee Cross, a village in Greater Manchester, within the area where she will serve as Bishop of Stockport.

Her new episcopal robes have been specially adapted by clerical outfitters in Newcastle.

Her cross has been made by a silversmith in Stockport while her bishop’s ring was made from Blue John Stone, a gem found only in Derbyshire, her home county.

Readings will include a passage from the Book of Isaiah speaking of being called to “proclaim good news to the poor” and “liberty to the captives” while music will include a mixture of traditional and modern hymns.

While Dr Sentamu will preside as archbishop, many of the key roles in the service will be played by women. The sermon will be given by the Venerable Sarah Bullock, the Archdeacon of York, and the Dean of York Minster, the Very Rev Vivienne Faull, will open the service and read one of the lessons.

“Thinking about it, it’s very emotional," the Rev Lane told BBC Radio Manchester on Sunday.

“It is a remarkable thing that his happens to be me … but actually this is about a moment in the Church’s history.

“The prayers of those bishops and archbishops and the clergy who are gathered in that place and who are holding me in their prayers – across this country and around the world – at that moment when the prayer of consecration happens, I’m sure will be a very profound and remarkable moment for me then and for my future ministry.”
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