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Special day for first woman bishop

The Church of England's first woman bishop was installed in her home diocese today - on International Women's Day.

Libby Lane was consecrated as the eighth Bishop of Stockport at York Minster in January but today's ceremony at Chester Cathedral marked the formal beginning of her ministry.

The Church adopted legislation last November to allow women to be bishops, following decades of debate.

More than 1,900 people from across Cheshire attended the installation, which was part of a service of choral evensong.

Bishop Lane took her place in her stall and the Dean of Chester, The Very Revd Professor Gordon McPhate, called for the blessing of God to rest upon her in all her duty and charge. She was presented with her pastoral staff and welcomed by the civic and faith communities from across the Diocese of Chester.

During the service she preached on the theme of confidence that humans have, knowing they are loved by God.

She said the service of installation felt like a "homecoming", adding: " I continue to feel deeply grateful for the honour of this calling and the privilege of exercising it in this place.

"Expectations are high, and I too am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead. I echo what I said in my statement at my announcement - the church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the good news of Jesus and to build his kingdom.

"I am delighted to be engaging with that task in an area I know and love and among people I value so highly. But I do know I'll need people to be patient and understanding - about the time it will take for me to address all that is already waiting for me, and for the mistakes I will inevitably make on the way."

Bishop Lane, 48, was previously vicar of Hale and Ashley in the Chester Diocese from 2007-14. She is married to the Revd George Lane, coordinating chaplain at Manchester Airport. They were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together.

The Dean said: "We were honoured to welcome the Bishop of Stockport and her supporters to the installation service at the cathedral. It was a day of worship and celebration - for men and women alike - as a new chapter was created in the Church of England."

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