Church of England Appoints First Female in Senior Bishop Position; Now 3 Female Bishops

Woman clergy take photographs of the first female bishop in the Church of England Libby Lane following her consecration service at York Minster in York, northern England, January 26, 2015.
Woman clergy take photographs of the first female bishop in the Church of England Libby Lane following her consecration service at York Minster in York, northern England, January 26, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Phil Noble)

A female archdeacon belonging to the Church of England will soon be promoted to the position of a senior bishop, breaking new ground in the prominence of women in the Church of England.

The Ven. Rachel Treweek, a former speech therapist ordained in 1994, will become the head of the Diocese of Gloucester.

While being the third woman to be appointed as a bishop, Treweek's advance has its own milestone, as noted by Episcopal News Service.

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"Treweek … will become the first female to serve as a diocesan bishop in the Church of England," reported ENS.

"The news comes one day after the Rev. Alison White was named as the next bishop of Hull and two months after the Rev. Libby Lane was ordained and consecrated as bishop of Stockport. Those two appointments are to serve as suffragan (assistant) bishops."

In a statement published by the United Kingdom publication The Guardian, Treweek said that she hoped "this will become something normal in the Church of England."

"I hope that we will see bishops who are men and woman, we'll see parish priests who are men and women, and we'll see laity – who are out there today doing amazing things – being the people that God has called them to be," said Treweek.

"It's my real hope that from this time on that any child, any adult, will know that they can be the person that God is calling them to be."

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

In December, it was announced that the Rev. Libby Lane would become the first female bishop, being consecrated as head of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester.

Lane was consecrated in January as bishop, before approximately 1,000 attendees that included at least one heckler during the ceremony who shouted "not in the Bible."

Mere hours before Treweek was announced as the first female diocesan bishop, it was reported that the Rev. Alison White would be consecrated as bishop of Hull later this year.

The Rt. Rev. Martin Wharton, the recently retired bishop of Newcastle, which was the diocese where Rev. White serves as priest-in-charge, said in a statement that he's "thrilled."

"I am thrilled that Alison's priestly and personal gifts have been recognized by the wider church and believe she will be an outstanding bishop who will quickly endear herself to the people of Hull and the East Riding," stated Wharton.

"As the second woman to be appointed bishop in the Church of England, we rejoice with her and pray for her."

Praise for the decision to promote Treweek has come from other parts of the global Anglican Communion, including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

"Wow, how wonderful so soon after Bishop Libby. I'm thrilled for you dear Rachel and I'm thrilled for the Diocese of Gloucester, for the Church of England, for the Church of God and for all of us," said Tutu.

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