Girl Power! Sunderland Canon Provost Sheila Bamber welcomes moves allowing women to become bishops

Canon Provost Sheila Bamber
Canon Provost Sheila Bamber
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A SUNDERLAND clergywoman said the time was right to address gender inequalities after the Church of England voted to allow women to become bishops for the first time in its history.

Women bishops could be appointed by the end of this year after legislation backing the move was given final approval by the General Synod.

Members of the Church’s governing body voted in favour of a measure allowing women bishops in a historic vote at York University yesterday.

The legislation received the necessary two thirds majority in all three Houses of the General Synod, with 37 bishops voting in favour with two against and one abstention, 162 clergy in favour, 25 against and four abstentions.

In the crucial lay votes, there were 152 votes in favour, 45 against and five abstentions.

In spite of an appeal from the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, for the result to be heard in silence as is traditional in the Church of England at key votes, there was some clapping and shouts of “brill” from within the hall when the outcome was announced.

The success in the make-or-break vote comes after a plan to introduce women bishops collapsed in November 2012 when it was derailed by just six votes cast by lay members.

Welcoming the move today, Sheila Bamber, Canon Provost at Sunderland Minster, said: “It’s about time.

“We need to work together and we need to be faithful with the decision that we have made.

“We shouldn’t be making decisions based on gender; on beliefs yes, but not gender.”

She added: “I think we need to do good for the place of women in the church.

“We are a very open church and it should pave way for more serious issues such as domestic abuse.”

Women were able to become priests more than 20 years ago, but members of the CoE General Synod blocked the ordination of women bishops in November 2012 after the vote failed to reach the two-thirds majority required.

Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin could become the first woman bishop for the CoE now that the legislation has been passed.

“It is a big step and it means we are taking a more modern approach,” added Canon Bamber.

“I just hope that people in the Church are robust enough for disputes not to happen,” she said.

“I don’t want to become a bishop myself but I would love to see a woman bishop as soon as possible.”

Speaking in the debate, The Archbishop of Canterbury – and former Bishop of Durham – the Most Rev Justin Welby, assured traditionalists that Church of England bishops were committed to meeting their needs.

l Internet vote – Page 14