Priest who supports Manchester soccer club named Church of England's first woman bishop

(Photo: REUTERS / Nigel Roddis)The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby applauds a speaker during the Church of England's Synod session which discussed and voted on the consecration of women bishops, in York, July 14, 2014.

The Church of England says the Rev. Libby Lane will be the church's first female bishop ending centuries of male only leadership.

The announcement that she will be the next Bishop of Stockport in Greater Manchester was made in the Stockport town hall on December 17.

"I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But, most of all, I am thankful to God," Lane said after her appointment.

After her role was approved by Queen Elizabeth the British monarch, Lane, who is parish priest in the nearby town of Hale, said it is a "remarkable day for me and an historic day for the Church.

"This is unexpected and very exciting," she said.

She will be consecrated in York Minister on 26 January.

Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated Lane, saying: "This is an historic appointment and an important step forward for the Church towards greater equality in its senior positions."

Expressing delight at Lane's appointment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said, "Her Christ-centred life, calmness and clear determination to serve the Church and the community make her a wonderful choice."

The 48-year-old Lane is married to the Rev. 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 Church times reported. They have two grown-up children.

"This is unexpected and very exciting," she said.

The Church of England general synod voted to back plans for female bishops in July and formally adopted legislation on 17 November.

Libby Lane's interests include being a school governor, supporting Manchester United soccer club and learning to play the saxophone, her church website said.

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