A PRIEST tasked with leading one church which accepts women bishops and another which refuses them had to be blessed by two bishops, all in one service.

The Reverend Carl Peters’ new job will see him take charge of St John’s Church in Brandon, County Durham, which supports female priests and bishops, and St Luke’s in nearby Ushaw Moor, which rejects both.

Hence, he had to be formally licensed both by the Right Revered Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, and the Rt Rev Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley, whose job includes providing pastoral care for opponents of women bishops within the Durham diocese.

But the service, held at St John’s just days after the Church of England’s ruling General Synod finally voted to allow women bishops, has been hailed as evidence both sides can work together in future.

Bishop Bryant said: “This is a real example of how the new order could work throughout the Church of England with people of all traditions working together for the common good and for flourishing of our communities – wherever they are and whatever tradition they come from.

“No matter if their local parish preference is for women incumbent or not, the important point is that we can work together and this is a great example of that happening.

“This coming together to share in the licensing of a new priest in the Diocese of Durham, where all traditions celebrate without reference to their theological leanings is a real sign of a new path, one that I’m sure will bring positive outcomes right across the Church.”

Bishop Webster said the Synod vote and the licensing service gave him hope for the future.

Meanwhile, a service was held at Durham Cathedral to celebrate 20 years since the introduction of women priests, with some of the first to be ordained among the congregation.

The Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, said it was the first service of its kind following the Synod vote, making it “very special”.

“In the services up and down the country that occurred before the Synod vote there must have been an element of concern, but not today – today we celebrate that 20 years after the first women became priests we will now see women bishops very soon also.”

The first female bishop could be appointed before the end of the year and the Very Rev Vivienne Faull, Dean of York Minster, is among those tipped to secure the historic appointment.