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Church appoints second woman bishop

The Church of England's second woman bishop has said she will be getting "endless kindness and support" from her husband, who is doing the same job.

The Reverend Canon Alison White was announced as the new Bishop of Hull by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, at a service at his Bishopthorpe Palace today.

She follows the first woman bishop, The Rev Libby Lane, who was consecrated as the eighth Bishop of Stockport at York Minster in January.

But Rev Canon White will have some insight into her new job because her husband is Bishop Frank White, Assistant Bishop of Newcastle.

She laughed today when she was asked if he had offered her advice.

She said: "I think he hasn't so much given me advice so much as, as ever, his endless kindness and support. And knowing that, here we are, we're in it together."

The new bishop said she knows Bishop Lane well and would be seeking her out for mutual support.

She said: "I'm hugely grateful to Libby. I don't think I would have wanted to be the first woman to be called into this ministry.

"Libby has taken that on with such grace and joy."

Rev Canon White said: "She's doing a fantastic job and it's always nicer to have somebody alongside you, isn't it? So I think we'll take the first opportunity we can to meet up and close the doors and swap notes."

And she said she hoped her appointment would be the next step to making woman bishops an everyday part of Church life.

She added: "Won't that be wonderful when, in the best sense, it isn't newsworthy because we're women, it's newsworthy because of what we're called into. It's step by step in making it business as usual."

Dr Sentamu made the announcement at the beginning of a short service at his palace near York which included songs from local schoolchildren and a turn on the drums from the Archbishop.

Rev Canon White said she was "absolutely excited" about her new role which she described as a "huge adventure".

"I feel amazed," she said. "What a surprise. I didn't see this one coming at all."

She also said she was "really excited" about learning about Hull, adding that, with the city gearing up to be the UK City of Culture in 2017, it was the "perfect time".

She said Hull is "a place that's got a big story and a lot of challenges and, I think, immense potential".

The new Bishop of Hull is currently priest-in-charge of Riding Mill in the Diocese of Newcastle.

Dr Sentamu agreed today's announcement was another step towards normalising women bishops.

He said: "The Church of England tends to take a long time to make a decision but when it does make a decision it moves very, very quickly.

"That was true of the ordination of women. Within a very short period of time we had a lot of women priests and I just sincerely know and hope that it not be long before we get a woman diocesan bishop."

He said: "There have been a lot women who have had a lot of gifts who have just been waiting. And it's a joy to bring them on board at this particular point of time."

The Archbishop said: "This is a joyous day. I am delighted to be welcoming Alison as the next Bishop of Hull.

"Whilst she will be working with others across the Diocese of York encouraging faith in urban life, she will have particular responsibilities for the vibrant city of Hull and the glorious coastline and countryside of the East Riding.

"Alison is a person of real godliness and wisdom - it is fantastic that she has accepted God's call to make Christ visible together with all of us in this Diocese of York."

The Rt Rev Martin Wharton, the recently retired Bishop of Newcastle, said: "I am thrilled that Alison's priestly and personal gifts have been recognised by the wider church and believe she will be an outstanding bishop who will quickly endear herself to the people of Hull and the East Riding. As the second woman to be appointed Bishop in the Church of England, we rejoice with her and pray for her."

The Rev Canon White, who became a priest in 1994, will be consecrated on July 3 at York Minster. She succeeds the Right Rev Richard Frith, who became Bishop of Hereford in November 2014.

The Church's General Synod formally approved plans late last year to ordain women bishops after years of division and in the face of stiff opposition.

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