Most senior woman bishop appointed

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Published: Thursday 26th March 2015 by The News Editor

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The Church of England has appointed its most senior woman bishop, the Prime Minister’s office announced today.

The Venerable Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney, is to become the next Bishop of Gloucester – the Church’s first female diocesan bishop.

She is the third woman to be made a bishop following the Reverend Canon Alison White, the new Bishop of Hull, and the Reverend Libby Lane, the Bishop of Stockport.

Speaking at a farm near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, Ms Treweek said she hoped her appointment would become “normal” in the Church.

“All through my life I’ve felt that it is very important that everyone can be the person they are called to be,” she said.

“Therefore, since I’ve been on the General Synod I’ve certainly played a key role in those debates.

“It’s my real hope that from this time on that any child, any adult, will know that they can be the person that God is calling them to be.

“I hope that – while today is incredibly special and I feel enormously humbled to be here – this will become something normal in the Church of England.

“I hope that we will see bishops who are men and women, we’ll see parish priests who are men and women and we’ll see laity – who are out there today doing amazing things – being the people that God has called them to be.”

It is understood that the 52-year-old will become the first woman bishop to enter the House of Lords.

The appointment, which comes after the Right Reverend Michael Perham retired in November, means she is the first woman to run a diocese and is one rank below an Archbishop.

She added: “I’m overjoyed to be here. Obviously a bit surprised and a little daunted but I’m really excited about sharing the love and hope of Jesus with people of this diocese and encouraging other people to do the same.

“I’m looking forward to leading a church here which connects with people wherever they are, whatever their concerns.”

The announcement was first made by the Prime Minister’s office, before Ms Treweek was introduced by the Bishop of Tewkesbury, Bishop Martyn Snow – the youngest serving bishop in the Church.

Speaking at a press conference at a farm used by the Royal Agricultural University, Bishop Snow described the announcement as “special”.

“It is an enormous privilege for me to be able to introduce to you the person who has been nominated to be the next Bishop of Gloucester,” he said.

“Rachel and I have known each other for more than 20 years – we actually trained together for the ministry – so it’s a particular privilege for me to be able to look forward to working with Rachel.”

Ms Treweek answered questions from journalists during a short press conference before walking up to a barn on the site housing sheep and their newborn lambs.

She was raised in Hertfordshire, studied linguistics at Reading University and worked as a speech and language therapist before entering the Church.

The new bishop then attended Oxford University’s evangelical theological college, Wycliffe Hall, and was ordained in 1994.

She married Guy, priest-in-charge of two parishes in the City of London in 2006, the same year she was appointed Archdeacon of Northolt. In 2011, she became Archdeacon of Hackney.

Her formal enthronement as bishop of the diocese, home to 600,000 people and 205 parishes, will take place at Gloucester Cathedral later in the year.

The appointment was welcomed throughout the church, with the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, the Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, describing it as “fantastic news”.

He said: “Wow, how wonderful so soon after Bishop Libby.

“I’m thrilled for you, dear Rachel, and I’m thrilled for the Diocese of Gloucester, for the Church of England, for the Church of God and for all of us. Yippee.”

And the Right Rev Lane said: “I congratulate Rachel on her nomination as Bishop of Gloucester. She is an exceptional priest whose leadership is well proven. She is both genuinely caring and deeply insightful.

“Her experience as an Archdeacon, in General Synod, and the national church will equip her well for her future ministry.

“It has been an honour to serve alongside Rachel as Regional Representatives in the House of Bishops, and I rejoice that she takes her place there as of right.

“Rachel and Guy are in my prayers as they prepare for this exciting change in their lives.”

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, said: “As Richard of Gloucester is reinterred, Rachel of Gloucester is revealed.

“Rachel has served her entire ministry in the Diocese of London, excelling wherever she has been.”

He added: “While we are very sorry to see her go, Gloucester has appointed someone with real quality and distinction. We look forward to continuing to support her in the years to come.”

Published: Thursday 26th March 2015 by The News Editor

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