Libby Lane's consecration: a long time coming but worth the wait


It's the day we've been waiting for; the first woman bishop in the Church of England was finally consecrated – Libby Lane has taken up her mitre.

Surrounded by senior Church figures, the Archbishop of York presided over the service this morning and was among the first to bless Lane into the order of bishops. It was a beautiful moment and one that couldn't have come soon enough for many.

It's the sheer length of the journey to women bishops that means it's been portrayed as a bit of a battle; liberals and conservatives swinging fists until someone got their way. There was much rejoicing when the legislation was finally passed by Synod, quite aptly in York, last July – Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby himself praised the move as "long overdue".

But it was always going to be a journey, and though it's taken far more than my own lifetime to get to this point, I'm glad it's been done well. The Church is often accused of being a step (or three) behind the times, but this was never about bowing to secular values, or 'catching up with the 21st century'. It's about following the teachings of Jesus and the model he set for valuing people of both sexes fully and equally, and the Holy Spirit being available to men and women freely and abundantly.

There of course remains a minority within the Church of England that holds to the traditional belief of male-only ordained roles, and safeguards have been put in place to accommodate them. Philip North, a traditionalist, will be consecrated as bishop next week, and will have the job of presiding over parishes who refuse to come under Lane's authority.

Though contentious, it's important that there is space in the Church for people to hold different beliefs. There should be room for all of us to grapple with theology together, and though it's been described as a "very Anglican solution", it's probably the best possible solution.

"Gracious engagement" has been the phrase of the hour throughout the entire ordeal; Welby has repeatedly stressed the importance of "disagreeing well" with one another and it seems he's largely been successful. Recent events have shown we have to champion unity and work through divisions – there's no other way forward.

Today is a victory for women who will now be able to fully flourish, knowing that they are able to equally contribute to the life of the Church. This is the call of Jesus, and one which I am delighted the Church is aligning itself with.

As the Venerable Sarah Bullock, Archdeacon of York, said in her sermon today: "We are so easily caught up in Synods [and other meetings]...but this is all about Jesus."

It's been a slog for those who have been campaigning for decades, but from the tears of joy I witnessed today, I doubt there's one who wouldn't say it was worth it.