The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, took her seat as the first female bishop in the House of Lords on Monday.
Bishop Treweek was introduced as one of 26 Lords Spiritual by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, during a ceremony in the House of Lords this week. She signed the Oath of Allegiance before taking her place on the benches as the most senior woman bishop in the Church of England.
Under the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act, passed earlier this year, women diocesan bishops can jump the queue for the Lords for the next ten years: entry is normally by seniority.
Speaking before her admission, Bishop Treweek said: “The leadership of the Church of England should reflect the diversity of the country, all nationalities and social backgrounds. When people come to church, they should see someone like themselves spreading the message that God is love.”
She went on: “I hope younger women will think, ‘Yes, I could do that’; but what matters is that people are able to live out their calling, whatever that might be.”
Given our revolutionary past, we have, in this country, put aside many of the customs associated with Bishops that are part of the fabric of the Church of England. Still, it is interesting to note how the first woman Bishop to sit in House of Lords will be addressed.
Rachel, Lord Bishop of Gloucester, was introduced and took the oath, supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.
Baroness Northover tabled a perfectly understandable question to the Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Stowell of Bestow: “What discussions she has had with relevant authorities regarding a gender specific title for the first woman bishop to be introduced into the House of Lords, currently described as the Lord Bishop of Gloucester” [HL2684]. To which Baroness Stowell replied:
“Following discussions between the Church of England and the Crown Office, it has been agreed that ‘The Lord Bishop’ will continue to be the appropriate designation for all Bishops in the House of Lords.”