Fulcrum warmly congratulates the Diocese of Chester on its appointment of Revd Libby Lane as the next Suffragan Bishop of Stockport. On this historic day for the Church of England it is significant that they have chosen, as our first woman bishop, someone who has grown through the ordinary demands of Christian ministry and years of faithful service as a parish priest.
Many have spoken of Libby’s mature spiritual and pastoral leadership and experience, which will enable her to understand and address the issues faced by clergy and laity as well as those beyond the church. Libby and her husband, George, both ordained ministers, have learnt how to juggle the demands of ministry with family life. They have had to work out how each must exercise their calling, whilst supporting the other. They have discovered how to hold together an obedience to proclaim the Gospel with the need for social involvement in areas of justice. Libby’s experience in all of these areas will surely enhance her episcopacy and equip her well in her new Suffragan role.
Fulcrum now hopes that our first woman bishop will demonstrate she is someone whose orthodoxy will enable her to exercise strong episcopal leadership and be a focus of unity in the church. The Christo-centric nature of Libby’s theology, and her prayerful spirituality are evident. We look forward to seeing her grapple with the centrality of scriptural revelation in meeting the challenges for the church today. For this is all the more crucial now, if the church is not to fracture. We hope that those who have long been keen to welcome women as bishops, and those whose reservations remain deep will both find encouragement in Libby’s theological discernment. In the coming months, Libby’s appointment will open up new public opportunities for the Church to communicate the love of Christ to our needy world. We will need to seize these opportunities from the biblical basis of our faith, and allow the Holy Spirit to use them to the glory of God.
Our prayers will be for our first woman bishop, that God will bless and empower her for this calling and give her the wisdom she will need; and for the Church of England that we will be filled with grace and love to receive her ministry.