[Diocese of Chester] The Rt. Rev. Libby Lane – the first female bishop in the history of the Church of England – was formally installed as the eighth bishop of Stockport at Chester Cathedral on International Women’s Day, Sunday, March 8.
More than 1,900 people from across the county of Cheshire attended the installation, which was part of a service of Choral Evensong.
The occasion started with a procession and the choir singing the Introit, followed by Bishop of Birkenhead Keith Sinclair welcoming Lane and inviting others to express their greetings.
Bishop of Chester Peter Forster then invited Dean of Chester Gordon McPhate to install Lane as the bishop of Stockport, a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester.
Lane took her place in her stall and the dean called for the blessing of God to rest upon her in all her duty and charge. She was presented with her pastoral staff and welcomed by the civic and faith communities from across the Diocese of Chester. During the service she preached on the theme of the confidence that humans have, knowing that they are loved by God.
Among the guests were: the chief executive officer of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council; the mayors of Trafford, Tameside, Cheshire East, Stockport, and Chester boroughs; and the High Sheriffs and Lord Lieutenants of Cheshire and Greater Manchester.
The installation marked the formal start of Lane’s new ministry in the diocese. She said: “I treasure the remarkable welcome extended to me in my new ministry as bishop of Stockport by people across the Diocese of Chester.
“The service of installation during evensong at the cathedral felt like a homecoming. It was wonderful that so many wanted to share that occasion, and I particularly extend my appreciation to those who could not be present because requests to attend outstripped even the cathedral’s capacity, but who supported me in prayer nonetheless. Our whole family is very grateful for the love and support that we have received.
“I look forward now to settling into this new ministry. On the day of my announcement I expressed my gratitude – to the Diocese of Chester for the confidence placed in me, to those who have gone before me, to God for His faithfulness to us, to Christ, whose love for me is the source of all am and all I will be doing. I continue to feel deeply grateful for the honor of this calling and the privilege of exercising it in this place.
“Expectations are high, and I too am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead. I echo what I said in my statement at my announcement – the church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the Good News of Jesus and to build His Kingdom. I am delighted to be engaging with that task in an area I know and love and among people I value so highly. But I do know I’ll need people to be patient and understanding – about the time it will take for me to address all that is already waiting for me, and for the mistakes I will inevitably make on the way. So I ask for continued prayer – God our Father, hear our prayer for all your faithful people, that, each in our vocation and ministry may be an instrument of your love, and give to us the needful gifts of grace.”
Lane, 48, was previously vicar of Hale and Ashley in the Chester diocese from 2007-14. She 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. She has also held other roles in the diocese, including: team vicar in the Stockport South West Team; assistant diocesan director of ordinands; family life officer for the diocesan Committee for Social Responsibility; and chair of the diocesan Children’s Committee.
McPhate, said: “We were honored to welcome the bishop of Stockport and her supporters to the installation service at the cathedral. It was a day of worship and celebration – for men and women alike – as a new chapter was created in the Church of England.”
Lane was ordained and consecrated as the first female bishop in the history of the Church of England on Jan. 26 during a service at York Minster.
Lane was appointed Dec. 17. Her appointment and the ordination and consecration on Jan. 26 followed more than a decade of often-emotional debate accompanied by various stages of legislative action. The Church of England voted in July to allow women to become bishops, a decision that was later approved by the U.K. Parliament and given the assent of Queen Elizabeth II. The approvals were required because the church’s decision effectively changed English law. (The Church of England is an officially established Christian church with Queen Elizabeth II as its supreme governor.)