Equal role for women of cloth

Rt Rev Geoff Pearson Suffragan Bishop of Lancaster.
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson Suffragan Bishop of Lancaster.

The Bishop of Lancaster has welcomed a vote that will allow women to become Bishops.

Rev Geoff Pearson said the vote means women can now serve equally in every task in the church.

The vote came after previous proposed legislation was rejected in November 2012.

Since then, the Church of England said it has been working 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 on Monday, July 14.

Mr Pearson 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.”

Responding to the result Rev Julian Henderson, 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.