CHURCHES in Swindon have welcomed news that women will now be able to become bishops for the first time.

The General Synod voted in favour of the move on Monday in a ballot that required a two-thirds majority.

The Rev Trudie Wigley, vicar of the Dorcan Church, was among church leaders celebrating the decision.

She said: “This is wonderful news for the Church. Lots of people have been arguing about equality.

“But, for me, it’s not about equality; it’s about calling and the spirit moving in the Church today.

“The outcome of the vote is the spirit moving in this age and culture, and it’s just what we need.”

The crucial vote in the House of Laity went 152 in favour, 45 against, with five abstentions.

In November 2012, the change was derailed by just six votes cast by lay members.

The Rev Simon Stevenette, area dean of Swindon, said: “I am absolutely delighted by the outcome of the General Synod vote. It’s right for the Church of England and it’s right for the country.

“As area dean of Swindon and vicar of Christ Church, I have worked for many years with female colleagues, both lay and ordained, and I am very grateful for the gifts they share with us.

“I look forward to continuing to work with women in the Church in the future, in particular in this new capacity as bishops.

“Now this important legislation has been agreed, the Church is able to put its full focus on serving our communities and fulfilling our mission as Christians with all the gifts given to us by God.”