IN 1978, the Bishop of Birmingham moved a motion seeking legislation to allow women to be both priests and bishops.

In 1987, women were ordained deacons and in 1994, the first women were ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England.

Now in 2014, the General Synod approves legislation to allow female bishops.

The journey so far has involved much risk taking by those who have paved the way to the decision.

It is a journey that has involved disappointment, rejection, pain and resistance – the natural reactions of any group, any institution, facing change.

We now begin a new phase in our journey.

For some, there is a sense of relief. For me, and others, there is excitement at the beginning of a new era, but I am aware that for some it is a most difficult day.

My hope is that as women take up the role of bishop and this becomes a working reality, some of their fear will reduce.

We have been given an opportunity to show to the worldhow we in the Church of England can work together, even though we may not agree. It’s an opportunity to live together in peace and to respect each other.

Communities where men and women serve equally as bishops, priests and deacons will be better, for in Christ we are one in humanity.

We’re women and men sharing the love of God and serving God and all people equally, in every task in our day-to-day lives.

It is important we remember the world watches howwe live our lives and how we allow the love of God to be evident in all that we say, all that we do and all that we are.

There are a lot of very talented, inspiring, women ready to take up the role of bishop.

The first women to be bishops will bear a tremendous responsibility – they will have an awesome task.

My prayers and the prayers of many will be with whoever the first women are to fulfil this role.

I have never seen myself as a woman priest. I am a priest who happens to be a woman.

Likewise, these new bishops will be just that. Bishops who happen to be women.

But I will say with confidence that through the grace of God, the first female to be a bishop will be the right person, at the right time, in the right place.

I look forward to 2015 and the future with anticipation and excitement as this next phase of the journey begins.