The Church of England’s governing body gave final approval for women to become bishops on Monday, with two-thirds of all three parts of the General Synod voting “yes.”
The ruling means the first female bishop in the Church of England’s history could be appointed by the end of the year, a release from the church said. The vote will now move onto several legislative committees and later this year, a formal, legal announcement will be made, enacting the ruling in November.
“Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing,” the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a release. Welby, the spiritual leader of the church, supported the measure throughout the debate.
It’s the latest church to make moves towards equality and inclusivity, as church attendance falls across the board. The move ends a lengthy internal debate that threatened to split the church and it comes just a year and a half after the proposal was voted on—and failed—in November 2012.
“This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them,” Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu said.