Photo Credit: All photos: Derby Diocese
The first woman to be consecrated to the office of bishop in the Church of England, Libby Lane, is to become a diocesan bishop. Currently the Suffragan Bishop of Stockport in the Diocese of Chester – a role she has held since 2015 – Bishop Libby has been chosen as the next Bishop of Derby. The bishop made history when she was consecrated in York Minster in January 2015. She will take up her new role after Easter 2019.
“I am excited and privileged to have been called to serve as Bishop of Derby”, she said today after the announcement of her appointment was made by 10 Downing Street, the office of the UK Prime Minister. “I grew up here [in Derbyshire] and my vocation was fostered here. Derbyshire nurtured me and brought me to faith and I want to love Derbyshire back.
“I want to lead a church in Derbyshire where people find hope because they know they are loved by God in Christ, and I pray that hope sets us free to live our lives in ways that bring change for good.”
She described the county as ‘the place that holds my heart’. She grew up in Glossop in the north-west of Derbyshire and was selected for ordination while working in the parish of St Thomas Brampton in Chesterfield.
Welcoming the news, the Dean of Derby, Dr Stephen Hance, said: “I am thrilled that Libby is coming to be our bishop. Her roots are here in Derbyshire, and we are all very much looking forward to welcoming her home and working with her in the months and years ahead.
“This announcement presents us with an opportunity to think afresh, about who we are and who we hope to be, about the opportunities and challenges that face us as we move forward.”
Diocesan bishops in the Church of England are selected by the Crown Nominations Commission, a statutory body whose members are appointed by General Synod and the diocese in which a vacancy occurs. Its recommendations go to the government and an announcement of the appointment is made by the Prime Minister’s office after the Queen approves the appointment in her role as Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
In a largely ceremonial practice which confers the legal authority of the role, the cathedral chapter is convened to elect their new bishop before a legal ceremony in London confirms the election. Those steps will take place early in 2019 prior to her installation in Derby Cathedral after Easter.
As a diocesan bishop, Libby Lane will become eligible to sit as one of the Church of England’s 26 members of the House of Lords, the upper house of the UK Parliament. Under transitional arrangements, she will leap-frog her male counterparts in the queue for a seat once a vacancy occurs.
As today’s announcement was made, Bishop Libby was visiting a number of communities in the Diocese, beginning in Glossop, her childhood home-town where her parents still live. She was accompanied by her husband, George, and their two grown-up children, Connie and Benedict.
She was also visiting a C of E junior school in Bolsover, where she was taking part in an assembly; and revisiting her former church of St Thomas in Brampton, to meet women in their Knit and Natter group and men in their Thom’s Blokes’ social group. She will go on to meet members of the farming and agricultural communities in Alderwasley, before a reception at Derby Cathedral, where she will meet local faith and community leaders before joining the congregation for Evening Prayer.