Lancashire’s Bishop, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, has welcomed the result of the vote at the Church of England’s General Synod, which has just passed legislation to allow women bishops.
The vote today came after previous proposed legislation was rejected in November 2012.
In the 18 months since, work has been done to identify a new approach which would receive the necessary support.
The new legislation to allow women to become Bishops, as with the old, fell under Article 8 of the Constitution of the General Synod, meaning that it could not receive the final approval of the General Synod unless it has first been approved by the majority of the dioceses in the Church of England.
All the Dioceses, including Blackburn Diocese (The Church of England in Lancashire) voted in favour – paving the way for the historic vote today.
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Responding to the result Bishop Julian, The Bishop of Blackburn, said: “I am delighted General Synod has taken this historic step which means women will now take their place alongside men as Bishops in the future.
“I am fully supportive of women clergy serving in every part of the Church’s leadership and I recently ordained male and female priests in Blackburn Cathedral.”
Despite his support for women bishops and women clergy in general it is now well-known that when a previous set of proposals for women bishops came before General Synod for final approval in 2012 Bishop Julian (who was then Archdeacon of Dorking in Surrey) voted against the measure.
He took this stance because he believed not enough consideration had been given to those unable to accept the ministry of women priests and bishops.
As a result, and since being appointed as the Diocesan Bishop in Lancashire in 2013, The Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn, has been careful to reach out to people on both sides of the debate.
He said today: “I hope my vote at General Synod in November 2012 was a reassurance to those opposed to this development.
“I have always wanted to be a figure of unity on this matter and have strived to ensure there would be an honoured place for both positions within the mainstream of the Church of England.”
Bishop Julian added: “Given my previous position I am heartened that we have now reached a point where the proposals have been accepted; while at the same time ensuring that those in Lancashire and elsewhere who, in all conscience, cannot accept women bishops will not be marginalised and won’t be pushed to the edge of The Church of England.”
Meanwhile Bishop Geoff Pearson, the Bishop of Lancaster, said: “This vote helps women to serve equally in every task within the church. It helps us all to move forward in mission.
“Those of us in favour will have to work gracefully and generously with those who will be disappointed with today’s result."
Also commenting on the positive outcome today was Rev. Canon Fleur Green, Bishop’s Adviser on Women Ministry in The Church of England in Lancashire. She said: “This is a great day for the CofE; a positive step forward to have women bishops.
“It gives us a level playing field and when a future vacancy arises everyone who wants to apply can be considered and the best person can then be chosen – whoever that may be.”