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Who is Libby Lane, the first female Bishop?

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Libby Lane has recently been appointed as the Church of England’s first female bishop and will be taking over from Rt Reverend Robert Atwell, who is now the Bishop of Exeter. Image source: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7440/16185311930_3cd65b5001.jpg

On the 26th January 2015, Libby Lane became the Church of England’s first female bishop after being consecrated at a ceremony in York. Here we’ll take a closer look at the life of Libby Lane and her achievements to date.

Who is Libby Lane?

Elizabeth Jane Holden, known as ‘Libby’ Lane was born in 1966. Since 15th January 2015, she has been the Bishop of Stockport, a suffragan bishop for the Chester diocese. Her consecration was considered a historic event, with Lane being the first woman to be appointed as a bishop by the Church of England. The decision came as a result of the General Synod voting to allow women to become bishops back in July 2014.

The forty eight year old bishop is married to George Lane, a male priest, making them one of the Church of England’s first clerical couples. The pair met while studying at St Peter’s College in Oxford during the late 1980s.  George is currently the Coordinating Chaplain at Manchester Airport, licensed in the Diocese of Manchester. Together they have two adult children, Connie and Benedict who are currently in higher education.

Early life and education

Libby Lane started out life in Wycombe Rural District, Buckinghamshire but spent most of her childhood in Glossop, Derbyshire. She was educated at Manchester High School for Girls (an independent girls’ school) and went on to study theology at St Peter’s College, where she met her now husband, George. In 1989, Lane graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, which was later promoted to a Master of Arts (MA Oxon) degree under the statutes and customs of the university. Lane’s study for her ordination took place at Cranmer Hall, Durham University.

Interests

Aside from the Church, Libby’s interests include being a school governor and setting up social action initiatives. She is currently learning to play the saxophone and also admits to being a supporter of Manchester United. In her spare time she enjoys reading and doing cryptic crosswords.

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Service

Lane was first ordained in the Church of England as a deacon back in 1993 and as a priest a year later, in 1994, serving her curacy at St James’s Church in Blackburn. In 2000 she began serving in the Diocese of Chester as vicar of St Peter’s Hale and later of St Elizabeth’s Ashley and continued to do so up until her appointment to Bishop of Stockport in January 2015. She has also served as the Dean of Women in Ministry in the Diocese of Chester since 2010.

Back in 2013, Lane was chosen as one of the eight Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, representing the North West of England. She attended her first meeting in December 2013.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron has described the appointment of Libby as the first female bishop as ‘historic’ and ‘an important step for the Church towards a greater equality in senior positions.’  Other members of the church have also shown their support for Libby, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who has praised her ‘Christ-centred life, calmness and clear determination to serve the church and the community.’

Libby’s installation will take place on Sunday 8th March 2014 at 3:30pm at Chester Cathedral.

Image credits: snapper_look and Neil Melville-Kennedy

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