West Sussex clergy welcome first women bishop selection

Rev Canon Julie Peaty dean of women's ministry in the Diocese of Chichester - picture by Jim Holden
Rev Canon Julie Peaty dean of women's ministry in the Diocese of Chichester - picture by Jim Holden

The Bishop of Chichester and dean of women’s ministry in the diocese have welcomed the appointment of the Church of England’s first woman bishop.

Following the historic decision to give the Rev Libby Lane the role of Bishop of Stockport, Rev Canon Julie Peaty has said she hoped it would move the debate away from gender, but onto gifts of the person.

Rev Canon Peaty said: I am delighted that Libby Lane has been chosen as the first Woman Bishop in the Church of England. Her humility and sense of humour as well as her Christ-centred life and calm presence make her an ideal choice. I know Libby and am sure she will make an excellent Bishop serving the people of Stockport with love and care.

“The choice of a bishop for any diocese is about the right person for the role and I hope in the future we will no longer focus on gender but on gifts. Libby will begin her new role with the prayers of all those who have longed for this day to come.”

Bishop of Chichester Rt Rev Martin Warner has been equally as supportive.

He said: “The news that the Rev Libby Lane is to be the new bishop of Stockport will bring great joy and affirmation to those within the Diocese of Chichester and across the nation who have prayed and waited so long for this day.

“I welcome this appointment, knowing the extent of Libby’s commitment to finding a place for everyone within the Church of England to flourish, irrespective of their theological convictions on the matter of women’s ordination. I have no doubt that her gifts and experience will make a significant contribution to creating an environment of trust and generosity in which that flourishing can happen.

“As the Church of England now receives women bishops into its life, we must work to ensure that the attention demanded by this important theological matter is applied to more fruitful purposes.

“Energies hitherto demanded by controversy should be available for the great unifying task of single-mindedly loving God and loving our neighbour.”

The general synod voted to back plans for female bishops in July and formally adopted legislation on November 17.

Rev Lane remains vicar of St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley in the diocese of Chester until the formal ceremony on January 26.

The appointment will end centuries of male leadership of the church and comes 20 years after women became priests.

There are no immediate plans for a woman bishop in the Diocese of Chichester, which covers most of West Sussex. Any appointment would be dependent on an existing incumbent to move on.