Honorary Fellowship for Bishop Libby Lane
Our newest Honorary Fellow arrived on Thursday for a gloriously sunny tea party, a service in chapel with over 100 there (not the normal number – by a long shot) and a guest night swollen with attendees. The Right Revd Libby Lane is a figure of great historic significance for the College – having been a Theology student here in the 1980s – but, to put it mildly, for the Church of England. Her husband George Lane, who was here at the same time, and is the chaplain at Manchester airport, came too and was very much part of the occasion.
She is the first woman to be made Bishop in the Church of England – about 500 years after the split with Rome. She is the Suffragan Bishop of Stockport and was installed in York Minster earlier this year – in a ceremony watched by millions and interrupted by a man in the nave who thought her appointment should not have been allowed to proceed.
We organised a tea in Canal House with Fellows and some Theology students and presented Bishop Libby with her certificate. I confess that we did something similar a second time in Hall – because there were different people present and it was too important not to ensure that everyone had a chance to witness a piece of College history.
We broke precedent in Evensong. Towards the end of the service I interviewed her for 25 minutes or so – asking her about how she found out that she was going to be the history maker, what happened at her interview, how she dealt with the celebrity and the controversy, what she felt as the movement lobbying for the ordination of women priests burgeoned, her vocation for ministry, what her life was like at St Peter’s, what she felt when the service was interrupted at York (see above), when the Church of England will have its first woman archbishop – and more (a video will soon be available on the website). She dealt with all of this with enormous elegance and fluency. We ran out of time and had to go to dinner – but I much hope that the bishop and her husband will return soon.