Women bishops – why has it taken so long?

Lucy Gorman

Aside from her day job in TV advertising, Lucy is passionate about LGBT equality within the Church. A founding member of the LGBT Christian Fellowship she prides herself on breaking down 'Christian' stereotypes at the same time as tackling homophobia in the Church.
All other time is spent cuddling a rather small, cute Cocker Spaniel.

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So the main event happened back in July, however Monday was that final seal of approval. We held our breaths as hands went up in favour, and papers where signed. I am of course talking about the legislation being passed that women can now become bishops in the Church of England. The radical idea that no matter what you have between your legs, you are capable of the same job.

It was only back in 1994 that women were allowed to be ordained to become priests, which to me seems alien. We’ve had the Queen on the throne since 1952, and granted it may not be the best example but also Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, I haven’t checked in great detail but I’m reasonably sure they are both female!

Either way we’ve done it, it’s taken us a hell of a lot longer than most, but we are here, at a historical point. All we need to do now is appoint one. As far as I know, we have vacancies in St Edmundbury & Ipswich, Southwell & Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Stockport, Hertford and the one I’m most interested in: Hull!

The top runners are rumoured to be Rev. Jane Hedges who is the current Dean of Norwich and a former archdeacon of Westminster. Rev. Philippa Boardman who was one of the first women to be ordained back in 1994. Rev. June Osborne the current dean of Salisbury cathedral. Rev. Lucy Winkett, rector of St James’s Piccadilly in central London. Rev. Miranda Threlfall-Holmes vicar of Belmont and Pittington in Durham. And last but certainly not least we have Rev. Vivenne Faull who is the current dean at York Minster, if she’d like to take a trip east to Hull we would welcome her with open arms…Well most of us would!

On a more human note, I know through the experience of same sex marriage becoming legal, that although it’s law, and a lot support it, it’s still a case of changing many people’s attitudes. There are still a lot of people who disagree with women in ministry full stop, whether that be as vicars or as bishops. The chances are, as women get appointed as bishops they will come across people in their diocese (patch) who disagree. That’s going to be hard and my prayers go out them. Whoever the first women is, from day one they’ll be a lot of expectations forced upon her, she’ll be thrust into the lime light, whether she wants it or not!

I only know of the joy, relieve, and excitement that filled me, both back in July and on Monday as I watched the Archbishops sign that important bit of paper. We’ve finally got to the place that many have dreamed of, often for a lot longer that I have been born, never mind been aware of what’s going on in the Church! Although this is about celebration, and looking at all the avenues this opens to many women in ministry it does beg the question. When will I feel this regarding same sex marriage in the Church? When will I be holding my breath waiting for them to decide whether to bless same sex unions, or even conduct marriages within the Church of England? I use the term ‘when’ of course, because I do firmly believe it is a certainty, and really is just a case of when?

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