AN HISTORIC Church of England vote allowing women to become bishops has been welcomed by clergy in Cumbria and north Lancashire.
The General Synod passed the new legislation on Monday by the required two-thirds majority.
The proposal to allow women to be ordained as bishops was voted on previously in November 2012, but was rejected after some traditionalist lay members voted against it.
The Rev Anne Russell, Curate at Kendal Parish Church, hailed the result as ‘fantastic news’.
“People have been waiting a long time for this and sometimes you have to wait for others to catch up,” she said.
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“It was expected but you never know – we expected it two years ago but it didn’t happen.
“We welcome women’s ministry across the board, whether it’s Sunday school teachers or bishops, and we’re looking forward to hopefully having the first woman Bishop in 2015.”
The Rev Rob Saner-Haigh, priest-in-charge at Kendal Parish Church and assistant rural dean of Kendal, added: “It’s really good news – women priests have been doing a really great job for a long time.
“They bring just as much to the job as men do and it’s important that they are represented at all levels.”
The result comes more than 20 years after women were first allowed to become priests in 1992.
The Rt Rev James Newcome, the Bishop of Carlisle, said he was ‘delighted’ by the vote.
“Much prayer and careful consideration has gone into this process,” he said.
“We recognise that at times this has been a painful process for those in favour and those against the creation of women bishops.
“We recognise the theological problems that some within our diocese may have with the decision.
“I would stress that we will continue to reach out to those people in Christian love and respect.”
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 the result."
The Rev Canon Fleur Green, Bishop’s Adviser on Women Ministry in the Church of England in Lancashire, said: “This is a great day for the CofE.
“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.”