Today, as a trustee of Sophia Network, I had the priviledge to see history in the making!
Sitting, half a dozen rows back, I watched Libby Lane become, Rt Revd Lane, Suffragan Bishop of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester. The first female Anglican Bishop in the Church of England. York Minster was packed and there must have been a hundred Bishops.
The service of consecration was presided over by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu; and lasted more than two hours. A man sat by me who was delighted that his twelve year old daughter was a chorister - a tale for her to tell her children & grandchildren in the future, perhaps!
It went flawlessly, until the moment he asked the congregation if it was their wish to ordain her Bishop. At this point one disgruntled, lone, elderly dissenter walked to the front & said,
'No it most certainly is not ... '
You could have heard a pin drop. I was proud that those gathered, graciously gave him the freedom to voice his opinion. He turned on his heel and walked out. At this point the Archbishop went slightly off script to explain the ruling which allowed him to pronounce her bishop. Once more, he then asked the crowd if they wished her ordained; the cry of 'it is' was deafening! And after she was anointed the applause almost raised the roof! The crowd of bishops (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) all united at the laying on of hands and it was truly moving.
Archbishop Sentamu's generosity of spirit continued. He gave up his place serving communion to his new bishop. She began by serving communion to her family, including her husband, George (Co-ordinating Chaplain at Manchester Airport), her children and her parents & I was the penultimate person to be served. My day was made complete!
An excellent sermon was preached by her long time friend from her days at Durham University, and now Archdeacon of York, Sarah Bullock.
The job ahead isn't an easy one but God is with her and, in her interview in the Observer, she stresses that though the eyes of the World may be upon her, she wants the focus to be on Jesus Christ. She hopes to be a role model for young girls of all faiths and none; encouraging them to lift their eyes and achieve their potential with determination!
I whispered as I took the communion wafer 'GOD BLESS YOU' LIBBY! And I added, 'You are His precious daughter with whom He is well pleased!'
People say that they always remember where they were when Kennedy was shot. Well, I will certainly remember where I was on the much happier, if controversial moment, when England celebrated this long awaited, historical event. I was right there.
Karen Openshaw's background is in community cohesion, chaplaincy, counselling and mentoring. Karen is one of the trustees of the Sophia Network and is passionate about encouraging, equipping and enabling others to achieve their God-given potential. She is married to Bill and mum to Meganne and Katie.