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Lane ordained as first woman bishop

The first female Church of England bishop has described her consecration service as an "occasion of prayer and of party".

The Rev Libby Lane has made history after being ordained as the eighth Bishop of Stockport in a service at York Minster.

The two-hour service was briefly disrupted by a lone protester against the move to end centuries of all male leadership in the Church.

Bishop Lane, who has worked in the dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester, said she was "thrilled" at the amount of support she had received since she was named as the new bishop last month.

Nearly 2,000 people attended the service at the Minster today, which was conducted by the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu.

Speaking after her consecration, Bishop 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.

"I've heard from people of all ages, women and men, people I have known for years and people I have never met, people from down the road and people from across the world."

She added: " Thank you to all who are praying for me and partying with me today."

The bishop said she found the attention she had received "overwhelming".

"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," she said.

" 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."

The Minster bells announced the beginning of today's service and the congregation fell silent before Mrs Lane entered the Minster at 11am in a procession of clergy and ministers.

The Archbishop of York introduced the service and welcomed Mrs Lane and her family. She was presented to be ordained and consecrated to the office of bishop by the Bishops of Exeter and Chester.

She spoke to affirm and declare her belief in the faith and swore oaths of allegiance to the Queen and of canonical obedience to the Archbishop of York.

The service was interrupted as Dr Sentamu asked the congregation to affirm the ordination.

He said: "Brothers and sisters, you have heard how great is the charge that Libby is ready to undertake and you have heard her declarations. Is it now your will that she should be ordained?"

As the congregation said "It is", a man stepped forward and shouted: "No. Not in the Bible. With respect, Your Grace, I ask to speak on this absolute impediment, please."

The Archbishop of York read a pre-prepared statement and repeated his question to the congregation, which was answered positively without further disruption.

A Church of England spokesman said they were expecting the man, named as "serial protester" Rev Paul Williamson, to attend.

He said: "He's got the right to protest but the contrast was between a lone voice protesting and a sea of voices affirming."

Mr Williamson left and the service continued with the litany and an ordination prayer before Dr Sentamu and more than 100 bishops who were present at the consecration laid their hands on Mrs Lane's head.

The Archbishop of York then presented the new bishop with a Bible and anointed her head.

The congregation applauded as Mrs Lane was officially presented as the Bishop of Stockport and again as she left the Minster.

Bishop Lane smiled at the crowds as she led the procession from the Minster with Dr Sentamu before posing for photographs outside.

The announcement of Mrs Lane's appointment came a month after the General Synod formally adopted legislation allowing women bishops.

Previous proposals in favour of women bishops were brought down by traditionalists a year earlier.

Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the ''historic appointment'' as an ''important day for equality'' and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said he was ''absolutely delighted''.

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