Church of England appoints first female bishop

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Church of England's First Female Bishop (Libby Lane)
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Church of England appoints first female bishop
Reverend Libby Lane poses for pictures with Bishop of Birkenhead Keith Sinclair (L) and Bishop of Chester Peter Forster (R) during a photo call following the announcement naming her first woman bishop by The Church of England, after a historic change in its rules, in Stockport, northwest England, on December 17, 2014. Lane was named as the next bishop of Stockport, in a dramatic new step for England's state church after years of wrangling and division over the move. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Reverend Libby Lane poses for pictures with her husband George during a photo call following the announcement naming her first woman bishop by The Church of England, after a historic change in its rules, in Stockport, northwest England, on December 17, 2014. Lane was named as the next bishop of Stockport, in a dramatic new step for England's state church after years of wrangling and division over the move. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Reverend Libby Lane poses for pictures with her husband George during a photo call following the announcement naming her first woman bishop by The Church of England, after a historic change in its rules, in Stockport, northwest England, on December 17, 2014. Lane was named as the next bishop of Stockport, in a dramatic new step for England's state church after years of wrangling and division over the move. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Reverend Libby Lane poses for pictures during a photo call following the announcement naming her first woman bishop by The Church of England, after a historic change in its rules, in Stockport, northwest England, on December 17, 2014. Lane was named as the next bishop of Stockport, in a dramatic new step for England's state church after years of wrangling and division over the move. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Reverend Libby Lane poses for pictures during a photo call following the announcement naming her first woman bishop by The Church of England, after a historic change in its rules, in Stockport, northwest England, on December 17, 2014. Lane was named as the next bishop of Stockport, in a dramatic new step for England's state church after years of wrangling and division over the move. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Reverend Libby Lane speaks following the announcement naming her first woman bishop by The Church of England, after a historic change in its rules, in Stockport, northwest England, on December 17, 2014. Lane was named as the next bishop of Stockport, in a dramatic new step for England's state church after years of wrangling and division over the move. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Reverend Libby Lane is pictured during the announcement to name her first woman bishop by The Church of England, after a historic change in its rules, in Stockport, northwest England, on December 17, 2014. Lane was named as the next bishop of Stockport, in a dramatic new step for England's state church after years of wrangling and division over the move. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Reverend Libby Lane is pictured during the announcement to name her first woman bishop by The Church of England, after a historic change in its rules, in Stockport, northwest England, on December 17, 2014. AFPPHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Parish vicar Libby Lane (L) and Archdeacon of Norwich Jan McFarlane (R) arrive for the Church of England General Synod in York, northern England, on July 14, 2014. The Church of England was debating whether to allow female bishops for the first time in its history before a vote on July 14, which could end half a century of bitter divisions over the role of women. A yes vote by its governing body, the General Synod, could see the first women appointed to the Anglican Church's top jobs by the end of this year. AFP PHOTO / LINDSEY PARNABY (Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)
YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 14: The Archbishop of York John Sentamu, (R) and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby take part in a press conference after the Church of England General Synod gave their backing to to the ordination of women bishops at York University on July 14, 2014 in York, England. Members and officers of the Church of England's General Synod have voted in favour to introduce women bishops. The first women bishops could be announced and ordained within the next year. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Long exposure of priests filing out of Westminster Cathedral after the annual Chrism Mass on April 3, 2012 in London, England. The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols took part in the service joined by 350 priests wearing the new vestments which were introduced for clergy of the Diocese of Westminster. The design of the new vestments reflects key colours and geometric patterns present in Westminster Cathedral. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
DURHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22: The congregation listen to a service held in Durham Cathedral during the inauguration service for the Right Reverend Paul Butler on February 22, 2014 in Durham, England. The Bishop has served as the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, and previously as the Bishop of Southampton. He now becomes the 74th Bishop of Durham. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
A resin model of a sculpture illustrating the WW1 Christmas Truce football match is pictured during a photocall inside the remains of St Luke's Church in Liverpool, north west England, on December 15, 2014. The model, by artist Andrew Edwards, shows two soldiers, one British, the other German, greeting each other, and will be cast in bronze once funds have been raised for its completion. St Luke's Church, where the model is currently displayed, suffered bomb damage during WW2 and stands as a permanent monument to those who died in the 1941 Blitz. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE A MULTIPLE LONG EXPOSURE WAS USED IN THE CREATION OF THIS IMAGE) The interior of Salisbury Cathedral is illuminated by trails of candles carried by choristers during the annual 'darkness to light' advent procession on November 28, 2014 in Salisbury, England. The service, which begins with the medieval cathedral in total darkness and silence before the Advent Candle is lit at the West End, is one of the most popular services of the liturgical year. The annual advent service, which also takes place over tonight and tomorrow night and is seen by several thousand people, is a mix of music and readings during which two great candlelit processions move around the different spaces in the 12th-century building which, by the end, is illuminated by almost 1300 candles and is a spectacular start to the Christmas season. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
SALISBURY, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: The exterior of Salisbury Cathedral is seen during the annual 'darkness to light' advent procession on November 28, 2014 in Salisbury, England. The service, which begins with the medieval cathedral in total darkness and silence before the Advent Candle is lit at the West End, is one of the most popular services of the liturgical year. The annual advent service, which also takes place over tonight and tomorrow night and is seen by several thousand people, is a mix of music and readings during which two great candlelit processions move around the different spaces in the 12th-century building which, by the end, is illuminated by almost 1300 candles and is a spectacular start to the Christmas season. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Candles are carried inside Salisbury Cathedral during their Advent Procession entitled 'From Darkness to Light' in Salisbury, south west England, on November 28, 2014. The procession begins with the Cathedral in total darkness as a single Advent Candle is lit and by the end the whole interior of the medieval building is lit using1300 flickering candles. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Charles, right, looks at gifts presented to him with Archbishop Habib of Basra, Iraq, during a visit to meet Iraqi Christians, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. Prince Charles met members of an Iraqi Chaldean Christian community at the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Family, as well as Christians from Kurdistan, Armenia, and Iran. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Prime Minister David Cameron passes a large blue window in the shape of a crucifix as he leaves St Michael and All Angels Church in Southfields on April 3, 2012 in London, England. Mr Cameron discussed the Government's policy on the right to buy council house properties with local residents in a meeting at the church. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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LONDON (AP) -- The Church of England on Wednesday named the first female bishop in its 500-year history, promoting saxophone-playing, soccer-loving vicar Libby Lane to bishop of Stockport.

The announcement came five months after the church ended a long and divisive dispute by voting to allow women to serve as bishops.

Lane, who called her promotion "an unexpected joy," made her first act as bishop leading a prayer for the victims of the Taliban school massacre in Pakistan.

"I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment," she said.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who succeeded where his predecessors failed in elevating women to church leadership, said he was "absolutely delighted" by the appointment.

Prime Minister David Cameron called it "an historic appointment and an important step forward for the Church towards greater equality in its senior positions."

Lane was ordained in 1994, one of the first women to become a Church of England priest; her husband is also an Anglican priest. Her biography on the website of the Church of St. Peter's Hale, where she currently serves, says her interests include "learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords."

The 80 million-strong global Anglican Communion, whose members range from conservative evangelicals to supporters of gay marriage, has long been divided on the role of women in church leadership.

The Episcopal Church in the United States was the first member to have a woman serve as bishop and is now led by a woman.

The Church of England's national assembly, the General Synod, voted for the measure in July after a previous attempt two years earlier had failed.

Lane is to be ordained next month as a junior, or suffragan, bishop.

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