Church of England appoints women's ministry pioneer as fifth female bishop

A woman priest who has been a pioneer in women's ministry is to be the fifth woman bishop in the Church of England.

The Ven Ruth Worsley, who was the first woman to be Archdeacon of Wiltshire and who has been a steadfast proponent of women's ordination, is to be suffragan Bishop of Taunton.

After her ordination in 1996, Archdeacon Worsley served for 14 years as a parish priest in one of the most deprived areas of Nottingham. She was made dean of women's ministry for the diocese in 2007. She moved to Southwark in 2010 and three years later to Wiltshire.

She said: "I am surprised and amused to be chosen as the next Bishop of Taunton as I grew up in a non-conformist church where women held no roles of leadership. I am delighted to be heading to Somerset to join the diocesan team in this wonderful part of the world, moving 'next door' as it were. It will be a great privilege to meet and serve everyone who lives and works in the county."

Reflecting also on the atrocities in Tunisia, Ruth added, "In the light of the pain of the past few days we can all see the need to build bridges and forge relationships which will heal hurt, stand firm in the face of evil, and ensure that God's compassionate love and justice are expressed in our lives."

Her appointment follows that of Libby Lane, already installed as Bishop of Stockport. Canon Alison White will be consecrated Bishop of Hull in York Minister later this week, the Ven Rachel Treweek will be consecrated Bishop of Gloucester at Canterbury Cathedral on 22 July and Canon Dame Sarah Mullally will be consecrated Bishop of Crediton at the same service in Canterbury.

The Diocese of Salisbury is the first diocese to provide two female bishops in the Church of England: Canon Mullaly and now Archdeacon Worsley.

Bishop of Sherborne Graham Kings wrote on Thinking Anglicans: "Excellent news. Ruth will be a wonderful bishop and the Diocese of Bath and Wells will be blessed by God through her mission and ministry. Go west, young bishops."

Bishop of Bath and Wells Peter Hancock said: "The mission of the Church will be greatly enhanced through Ruth's contribution to the leadership of the diocese as together we seek God's vision for the people and places of Somerset."