Protesting priest shouting ‘Not in the Bible’ disrupts consecration of first female bishop in the Church of England at York Minster
- Rev Libby Lane, 48, was today consecrated as the Bishop of Stockport
- Service at York Minster was led by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu
- Dissident priest Rev Paul Williamson interrupted the service shouting ‘Not in the Bible’
- CofE spokesman said he was ‘serial protester expected to attend’
- Rev Williamson has previously mounted several legal challenges against women in the church
- Mrs Lane’s appointment came after years of furious argument over the possibility of female bishops
- She is married to another vicar and is a mother of two
The first woman bishop in the history of the Church of England was today officially consecrated – but the ceremony at York Minster was disrupted by a protesting vicar. The Reverend Libby Lane became the Bishop of Stockport in a service conducted by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. The historic event was briefly interrupted by the appearance of an ultra-conservative priest, Rev Paul Williamson, shouting ‘Not in the Bible’ as she was presented to the congregation.
At today’s service – described by the new bishop as ‘an occasion of prayer and of party’ – Mrs Lane, 48, was greeted by the ringing bells of the medieval Minster as a congregation of 2,000 awaited her arrival. She entered the cathedral through the south door in a procession with other ministers and members of the clergy. The Archbishop of York introduced the service and welcomed Mrs Lane and her family before she was presented to be ordained and consecrated by the Bishops of Exeter and Chester. She spoke to affirm her faith and swore oaths of allegiance and canonical obedience, followed by hymns, Bible readings and psalms. As Dr Sentamu asked the congregation if they wanted Ms Lane to be ordained, Mr Williamson stepped forward to the altar and shouted: ‘No. Not in the Bible,’ demanding to speak to the prelate.
The Archbishop read out a pre-prepared legal statement then repeated his question, ‘Is it now your will that she should be ordained?’ The congregation replied, ‘It is,’ and the service continued despite the disruption. After the litany and an ordination prayer, Rev Lane knelt before the Archbishop while he and 100 other bishops present laid their hands on her head. Dr Sentamu presented the new bishop with a Bible and anointed her head. The congregation applauded as she was officially presented as the Bishop of Stockport. Mr Williamson, the vicar of St George’s, Hanworth in south-west London, is a well-known campaigner against female priests who tried to launch a lawsuit stopped Prince Charles from marrying Camilla Parker Bowles.
Speaking after her consecration, Mrs Lane said: ‘Archbishop Sentamu has observed, “The way that we show our faith and our love for one another is with two simple things, prayer and parties.” ‘Today is an occasion of prayer and of party and I am thrilled that so many want to share in both. ‘I cannot properly express how encouraged I have been in the weeks since the announcement of my nomination, by the thousands of messages I have received with words of congratulation, support and wisdom. ‘Thank you to all who are praying for me and partying with me today.’ The bishop added: ‘I cannot possibly live up to everyone’s expectation. And so today, at my consecration, I hold on to words of promise from the Bible, a reassurance that all this does not depend on me.
‘My consecration service is not really about me. With echoes of practice which has been in place for hundreds of years in the church, it is a reminder that what I am about to embark on is shared by the bishops around me, by those who have gone before me and those who will come after.’
At the time of her appointment, Mrs Lane said it was a ‘great honour’ to be the first female bishop – but insisted that she would not simply be a token face. ‘This moment is significant, but it is not simply a gesture,’ she said. ‘I’m the first, but I won’t be the only. ‘And I follow in the footsteps of women across the Anglican Church and globally.’ The announcement prompted fears that it could lead to a split in the Anglican community, as traditionalists have long fought against the prospect of women becoming bishops. However, Mrs Lane said she wanted to ‘heal and not to hurt, to build up and not to destroy’.
Her husband George is also a reverend, while the couple have two children – Connie, 20, and Benedict, 18. Mrs Lane, originally from the Peak District, was already a pioneer as one of the first female priests in the Church of England, having been ordained in July 1994 after studying theology at St Peter’s College, Oxford. Her last job was as vicar of St Peter’s, Hale and St Elizabeth’s, Ashley – both in the North-West – and she was appointed to her new post after initially serving on the committee trying to find a bishop. In her spare time she is an avid Manchester United supporter who has learned to play the saxophone and enjoys solving cryptic crosswords.
FROM SUPPORTING MANCHESTER UNITED TO DOING CRYPTIC CROSSWORDS: HOW REV LIBBY LANE MADE CHURCH OF ENGLAND HISTORY
Rev Libby Lane comes from an Anglican, but not particularly church-going, family. She became interested in the church after attending a small Anglican church community in rural Derbyshire. Rev Lane studied theology at St Peter’s College, Oxford, where she met her husband and trained for the ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. The 48-year-old was ordained as a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994 – the first year that women were ordained into the priesthood. Mrs Lane was ordained with her husband and they were one of the first married couples to do so. She has held a number of roles in the north of England in the dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester. She was team Vicar in the Stockport South West Team and Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of Chester. Rev Lane has been vicar at Hale in Greater Manchester and Ashley in Cheshire since 2007. She is married to the Rev George Lane, coordinating chaplain at Manchester Airport. They were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together.
The couple have two children, Connie, 20, and Benedict, 18. Her interests include being a school governor, encouraging social action initiatives, learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords. Mrs Lane was originally part of a committee tasked to find a candidate for the bishopric but was invited to apply herself following the vote in the Synod last month. Her position at the Bishop of Stockport makes her an assistant in the Chester Diocese.
But because the post is fairly junior she will not be allowed to sit in the House of Lords.
Source: Daily Mail