The Blackpool-educated husband of the Church of England’s first ever female bishop today told of his pride in his wife’s achievements following the historic change.
The Rev George Lane, who was educated at Arnold School, in South Shore, said he was immensely proud of his wife Libby and toasted her appointment with a glass of Prosecco.
And he said their 25-year marriage could be seen to symbolise the future of the Church of England – a husband and wife “juggling” housework, raising the children and serving the Church together.
He said: “Our story represents the future of the Church of England. We met before we were ordained, when we were both students at St Peter’s College, Oxford.
“And we both went through the selection process in parallel with each other.
“We were recommended for training at the same time and trained together. We were ordained together as if it were the most normal thing in the world.”
They later moved to Yorkshire, where Mr Lane served in parishes supported by his wife, then a stay-at-home mother who helped in the parish, usually unpaid.
He recalled: “Libby, for the most part of the time we were there, had no official role whatsoever. She was the assistant vicar’s wife and also did some chaplain work.
“Libby knows what it’s like to be an unpaid priest just filling in for other people. Doing chaplain work for no money or very little money.”
The pair later moved to Manchester, where they both served in different parishes.
Mr Lane recalled: “Both of us doing the cooking, both of us doing washing, both of us writing sermons and both of us dealing with some very serious and important things in people’s lives.
“That is what normality is to us. I think the Church will respond positively to that being normality.”
Libby Lane was ordained in the Diocese of Blackburn as a deacon in 1993 and as a priest 1994. In 2007 she was appointed vicar of St Peter’s, Hale, and St Elizabeth’s, Ashley, and Mr Lane decided it was time for him to take a step back and support his wife.
“I felt it was time I paid back Libby for the times she had moved to follow me,” he said. “It is a very modern tale of two people who have given and taken over 25 years of married life.
“I’m very pleased for her and I’m very pleased for the Church of England. She is a very able person and brings something new.”
The Rt Rev Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn, said: “I am delighted that the appointment of the first woman bishop has now been announced.
“I look forward to sharing in the Rev Libby Lane’s Consecration and to working with her as a fellow-bishop here in the North West of England and nationally in the College of Bishops.
“And it is extra special that the first woman bishop in the Church of England is someone who began her ordained ministry here in the Diocese of Blackburn. As a Diocese we send Libby the assurance of our love and prayer as she prepares for the privilege and responsibility of service.”