Gloucestershire

New Bishop of Gloucester 'likely to be a woman'

Gloucester town centre with cathedral in background Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People at the diocese wanted a new bishop who could connect with the wider community

The first woman bishop in the Church of England could be in the Gloucester diocese, a senior clergyman has said.

The archdeacon of Cheltenham's comments came during an open meeting where some 70 people shared their views on what qualities the new bishop should have.

The Venerable Robert Springett said he felt the likelihood was "really pretty high" as the diocese could now pick the best person regardless of gender.

The Right Reverend Michael Perham, stepped back as bishop in August.

He had been due to retire in November.

He was interviewed by the Metropolitan Police investigating two allegations of indecent assault but was not arrested.

'Pro-women'

BBC Gloucestershire's faith producer Richard Atkins, who attended the meeting, said: "The feeling has been growing over the past few months - after last night's meeting it is 99.9 percent certain.

"This diocese has always been very pro-women bishops, very few people have been against it.

"Several people said last night, there should be a woman bishop - there was no concern or anxiety about it."

The appointments process is in the early stages where the diocese is formulating a "Statement of Need" or job description for the new bishop.

The two groups involved in drawing up the candidates list and conducting the interviews are the Vacancy in See Committee and the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), which is overseen by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The shortlist of candidates is kept confidential and the Queen will approve the final decision.

In the summer, the Church of England gave its final approval for legislation to allow women to become bishops but this needs to be ratified at the November Synod.

Gloucester could be the first to have a woman bishop, because it is the first diocese to hold its first CNC meeting after the synod.

There are five diocesan bishop vacancies in the Church of England going through the appointments process currently.

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