Canadian Anglican Diocese Elects First-Ever Female Bishop to Head Diocese

The Very Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson preaching a sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ste-Agathe, Quebec in 2009.
The Very Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson preaching a sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ste-Agathe, Quebec in 2009. | (Screengrab: YouTube / markagibsoncan)

An Anglican diocese in Quebec, Canada, has elected its first woman bishop, continuing the trend in the Anglican Communion of increased upper level female leadership.

The Diocese of Montreal announced Saturday that the Very Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson was selected to become diocesan bishop, replacing the retiring Bishop Barry Clarke and making her the first woman to head the diocese.

Montreal Diocese is a regional body of the Anglican Church of Canada, whose General Synod is based in Toronto, Ontario.

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Matt Gardner, spokesman for the Anglican Church of Canada, told The Christian Post that the denomination was "very pleased with the selection of the new bishop."

Headquarters for the Anglican Church of Canada.
Headquarters for the Anglican Church of Canada. | (Photo: Matt Gardner)

"Bishop Mary has extensive experience in the Diocese of Montreal and is currently dean of St. George's Cathedral in Kingston, Ontario," said Gardner.

"Her stellar work history and close relationship with the diocese make her an excellent fit for the role."

Gardner also told CP that there are five other female bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada: Rev. Barbara Andrews of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior; the Rt. Rev Jane Alexander of the Diocese of Edmonton; the Rt. Rev. Lydia Mamakwa of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh; the Rt. Rev Melissa Skelton of the Diocese of New Westminster; and the Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls, Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Toronto (Trent-Durham).

The Anglican Church of Canada is not the only member of the global Anglican Communion to open up new leadership roles for ordained women.

Last July, the Church of England voted to allow for female bishops. The decision came about 20 years after the Church voted to allow for the ordination of women clergy.

In December, the Rev. Libby Lane was announced as the first female bishop for the Church of England and was consecrated the following month.

During the month of March two more women in the Church of England, the Ven. Rachel Treweek and the Rev. Alison White, were also announced as becoming bishops later this year.

Regarding the increasing number of women in major church leadership roles, Gardner of the Anglican Church of Canada believes the trend will continue.

"Given the overarching trend in recent decades toward greater gender equality in all areas of life, we expect the number of female leaders in the Anglican Communion to only increase in the years to come," he said.

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