The Church of England has voted to allow women to become bishops at its national assembly meeting Monday.
The legislation, voted on by the Church's governing body or the General Synod, comes two years after a controversial November 2012 decision to forbid female bishops. Since then, two of the six lay members who voted in 2012 had announced their new decision to vote for the legislation, contributing to early signs the historic legislation would be passed.
In an address to the Church, the bishop of Rochester, the Right Rev James Langstaff, outlined the importance of the decision:
The Church of England has spoken very clearly through the voting of the diocesan synods and we today have, I believe, a responsibility to show that we have listened.
Wherever each of us stands on the spectrum of views, I want to suggest today that we have a responsibility to be guided, yes, by what we ourselves think, but also by what we assess to be the settled view of the great majority within the Church of England.
Of the Synod's three houses, 351 members voted for the measure, while 72 voted against, and 10 abstained. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who supported the decision, said there's a "good chance of the first woman bishop being announced very early in 2015, possibly been chosen before that."
The Church of England is part of the Anglican Communion, which has the largest Christian denomination in Britain, and has 926 congregations in the U.S.