Women bishops backed in landmark vote - and Norwich Dean one of those tipped to be first to benefit
16:49 14 July 2014
copyright: Archant 2014
A historic vote has seen The Church of England back the introduction of women bishops.
Members of the Church’s governing body, the General Synod, gave its final approval for legislation introducing women bishops this afternoon at York University.
The legislation received the necessary two thirds majority in all three Houses of the General Synod with 37 bishops voting in favour with two against and one abstention, 162 clergy in favour, 25 against and four abstentions.
In the crucial lay votes there were 152 votes in favour, 45 against and five abstentions.
The plan means the first woman diocesan bishop could be appointed by Christmas.
The knife-edge vote comes after the legislation was derailed by just six votes cast by lay members in November 2012, causing shock and bitter recriminations within the Church of England and prompting threats of an intervention by Parliament.
Before the vote, the Archdeacon of Norwich warned the Church of England risked losing credibility if its General Synod fails to back the introduction of women bishops.
Ven Jan McFarlane was in York for the keynote decision and was one of the first women to become a priest, 20 years ago.
She was so disillusioned when the plan was derailed by just six votes cast by lay members in November, that she considered leaving the church.
The Very Rev Dr Jane Hedges, 58, the Dean of Norwich has been tipped as one of the frontrunners to become the first female bishop, despite previously denying an interest in the role.
Dr Hedges received widespread coverage when she became the first clergywoman to shake hands with Pope Benedict XVI when he attended a prayer service at Westminster Abbey on his visit to Britain in 2010.
She was among the first group of women to be ordained in 1994.