Religious News Service International, London Dec 6, 2005
It was announced from Lambeth Palace today that The Rt Revd James Truefellow, formerly Bishop of Andover and now assistant bishop in the Diocese of Banbury will take advantage of the Gender Recognition Act 2005 and be re-assigned as a woman. Bishop Jenny will continue to minister in the diocese and will, in consequence, be the Church of England’s first woman bishop.
Said a spokesperson for Lambeth Palace: ‘It is well known that the Archbishop is of the opinion that a bishop’s ministry must be acceptable to a wide consensus within the diocese and in the wider church. Bishop Jenny will be able to exercise such a role. For those in favour of the ordination of women to the episcopate she will be, effectively, a woman bishop. Those opposed will also be able to accept her ministry because, as they will no doubt claim, she is (after all) a man. It is this gratifyingly Anglican compromise which the Archbishop welcomes.’
Bishop Jonathan Laxby, welcomed the news on behalf of the Modern Churchperson’s Union, of which he is Chair. ‘The MCU warmly congratulates Bishop Jenny on this bold step. We are convinced that women bishops (whatever their birth gender) will make a distinctive contribution to the life of the Church. I am glad that the provisions of the Act make further comment unlawful.’
The Very Revd Jane Sandringham, Dean of Shaftsbury and Moderator of WATCH was less enthusiastic. ‘I am afraid I cannot welcome this development at this time,’ she told our correspondent. ‘Everybody knows that I was expecting to get into the Guinness Book of Records as the first female bishop in the CofE. What we have been fighting all these years is the destructive self-assertive competitiveness of men. How like a man to steal a march on someone as bashful as myself!’
The Director of Forward in Faith was unavailable for comment.
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