THEIR patience and persistence has finally paid off.
Women who had set their sights on rising to the higher echalons of their ecclesiastical careers can now do so after history was made this week when the Church of England voted to allow women to become Bishops.
Rev Ruth Yeoman, Vicar of Menston Parish Church and a member of the General Synod for eight years, says: "This was a momentous and an historic step, nothing short of miraculous following a failed attempt in November 2012. The time between these two votes has been spent in building trust among members of the Synod who hold different views. The Synod committed itself not only to legislation, but to continue working at relationships among those in the church who hold different views on the ordination and leadership of women.
"The commitment to continue together in the church will be an on going process to make real the spirit as well as the letter of the law. Such reconciliation will be to enable members of the church to flourish not purely for their own sake but towards the common good of all people.
"Now work at every level in the life of the church is open equally to men and women. This is vital at a time when the church needs to make the most of its human resources. This is a new beginning, which has never been seen before and it will take some time for it to become the norm and not unusual.
"I am excited now for the gifted and able women and men entering training for ordained ministry in the Church of England. As with every generation they have a challenging time ahead. This transition time of global as well as national change is probably also one of the greatest opportunities for spiritual renewal if we can act with wisdom and courage.
"Gathered outside the debating chamber in York after the vote were women and men, some of whom had been working for this moment for many generations, others were recent arrivals. Mixed emotions of relief, delight, tiredness, hope and joy were seen on our faces, in hugs and exchanges as we toasted this day as a milestone in the history of the Church of England. This was almost the end of the a legislative process, but the beginning of a new era and the hard work to trust one another and deliver on the promises made to shape an in inclusive church."
The Rev Cayte Norman, vicar of Rawdon and Rural Dean of Churches in Aireborough and the Lower Wharfedale, also welcomes the news having witnessed the defeat in York in November 2012 when the proposals failed to achieve the required two thirds majority in the House of Laity.
Recalls Rev Norman: "I saw the disappointment of that. I think people were ready for it to go through and expected it would and it didn't. There was a lot of disappointment and the feeling what the church had failed women but this time it as affirmed them.
"I am pleased the church has approved it. I think it affirms women, and not just women in the church, one of the things when I became a priest what struck me was the number of people who saw it as a positive move for all women, not just for women in the church. It recognises that men and women are equal partners in society."
The Very Revd Jerry Lepine, Dean of Bradford, says: "I am thrilled with the outcome and welcome a future in which women will contribute fully to the leadership of the Church of England at all levels. The last years have been a test for the church as we look to move forwards together on this. The process has been demanding, but has helped us to grow in trust and confidence. And so now we journey on, embracing difference positively, and re-energised in our commitment to serving our local communities and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ."
The Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, says: "It’s been a long time coming, but that’s because the Church of England has worked hard to hold together those of contrasting views, even when those opposed were in the minority. But the wrestling has paid off and we have upheld our commitment to being a broad church.
"With the guiding principles the bishops have set out, we have a process that will both fully support women bishops while providing for the flourishing of those who are still opposed, and we can now move forward in a spirit of reconciliation and trust.
"I believe women bishops will have a hugely positive impact on the Church of England, and I look forward to the first consecration."