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Church of England in Lancashire votes for women bishops

The Diocese of Blackburn has voted in favour of the latest legislation to allow women to become bishops.

At a specially convened Diocesan Synod in Blackburn town centre tonight there was a passionate and thoughtful debate about proposed changes to Canon Law to pave the way for the historic move. 

There was also an opportunity to have more detailed discussions during breakout sessions.

All Houses then passed the motion (which could not be altered or added to) by a majority of 83 to 34, with 3 abstentions.

Voting was as follows:

House of Bishops:

For: 2, Against: 1, Abstaining: 0

House of Clergy 

For: 31, Against: 19, Abstaining: 2

House of Laity

For: 50, Against: 14, Abstaining: 1

Back in 2011 the Diocesan Synod of Blackburn Diocese narrowly voted in favour of proposals for the introduction of women bishops into the Church of England.

The motion was carried in two of the three houses of the synod with support from the laity and clergy groups.

The House of Bishops voted three to one against.

Nationally, all but two dioceses voted in favour of the legislation, but at the final approval stage in the General Synod, on November 20, 2012, it narrowly failed to secure the requisite two-thirds majorities in each of the Synod’s three Houses.

In the 15 months which followed, work was done to identify a new approach which would receive the necessary support.

The new draft legislation to allow women to become Bishops, as with the old, falls under Article 8 of the Constitution of the General Synod, meaning that it cannot 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.

That is why Blackburn Diocese was voting tonight and other Dioceses will continue to do so until all have given their verdict.

If a majority of diocesan synods approve the draft legislation, it is intended for the General Synod to consider the legislation in July this year. The Final Approval Stage, at which two-thirds majorities are required in each House, would then take place at that time. 

If passed, the legislation would then go to Parliament for approval and could be in force before the end of the year.

Speaking tonight following the vote Lancashire’s Bishop, The Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, who was appointed in October last year, said: “I am delighted our Synod has taken this important step towards equality for women within the Church.

“As I have already stated publicly several times, I am fully supportive of women clergy and I am looking forward to my first ordinations of women priests in June of this year.

“It follows that I also support the introduction of women bishops – and this vote today takes us ever-closer to the moment when women will take their place alongside men as Bishops.”

Ronnie Semley, April 3, 2014

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