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21 November 2014

Alliance director welcomes final step in women bishops legislation

Alliance director welcomes final step in women bishops legislation

The general director of the Evangelical Alliance has personally welcomed the formal adoption of women bishops.

The legislation was passed by a simple majority of the Church of England's General Synod – the final stage of legislative process.

The Synod voted to back the revised women bishop proposals, and the legislation has passed through parliament and received Royal Assent.

Women have already been nominated for the vacancy in Southwell and Nottingham, but no announcement will be made until January 2015. Gloucester, Oxford and Newcastle will also be making new appointments soon.

Speaking after the legislation was formally passed, Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "I am personally pleased that women can now formally become bishops in the Church of England after a long, and for some painful, process. I join with many evangelical Christians who have prayed for this day.

"I continue to pray for unity among those who might disagree, and look forward to welcoming the first appointment soon."

Women currently make up a third of the clergy, and worldwide there are already 29 women bishops.

Elaine Storkey, member of the General Synod and the Alliance's Council, said: "This final vote on women bishops wasn't an anti-climax. But with all the debates behind us, along with the agreement of parliament and royal assent, it was a formality.

"Now, those of us who have long-cherished this vision of biblical equality need to reassure those who have been opposed that they are much needed and respected in the Church of England.

"When our unity stays focussed on Christ, our unique Saviour, and on the Gospel revealed in the scriptures, we can go forward together into healing, growth and mutual service." 

In an earlier Alliance report – Life in the Church? – 80 per cent of evangelicals expressed their belief that women should be able to preach and teach, however most attend churches that are led by men.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said this week: "Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the Church and moving forward together. We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree."

You can read the reactions of five female Anglican leaders to women bishops here.