Vicki Wells, churchwarden at St Peter’s, Hale, where Lane has served for the past seven years, said: “Our congregation has increased threefold since she came here. It speaks for itself.”
Amid what is seen as a happy pre-Christmas tonic for the C of E, which took lots of public criticism as the bishop debate dragged on, Reform, the conservative evangelical network, was a lone contrarian voice. “Though it grieves us it comes as no surprise,” said Prebendary Rod Thomas, Reform’s chair.
Behind the scenes, Archbishop Welby has lobbied and worked with great energy to win the case for women as bishops. His right-hand agent was Canon David Porter, a seasoned negotiator whose work in Northern Ireland crafted a peace formula there. Porter needed to overcome misgivings of conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics. He did so by gathering key players in one room to hammer out a compact their constituents could support, having blocked earlier legislation in the synod in November 2012. Welby has said that he hopes the House of Bishops will have a 50/50 male-female balance within 15 years.