THE Bishop of Chelmsford was joined by 100 female priests from across Essex yesterday for a champagne breakfast.

The clergywomen were invited to the event by Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell following the controversial Church of England vote against the appointment of women as bishops.

The breakfast, at Chelmsford Cathedral, was organised as a way of celebrating the work of female priests in the county despite their disappointment.

The rev Marion Walford, a serving priest at St Nicholas Church, Canvey, has been inundated with messages from people who have expressed shock at the vote to stop women becoming bishops.

And she hopes there will soon be another vote.

She said: “I think the church is looking at ways to move forward.
“The Bishops are going to be looking at the issue and another vote will take place in the near future.

“It might sound strange but the champagne breakfast was actually a bit of a celebration. It was about reaffirming women in the ministry.

“Whenever times are difficult what we need to do is praise God, so it was about looking forward. And it was nice for us to get together as we don’t get the opportunity very often!”

Proposals to allow women bishops passed through the Houses of Bishops and clergy in the General Synod, but failed to gain the necessary two thirds majority among lay members.

Bishop Cottrell spoke out about the controversial decision, claiming that he was “hugely disappointed” and calling on the people of Essex to “please pray for the Church of England and especially for our women clergy, who will feel a great sense of rejection as a result of this decision.”

The breakfast at Chelmsford Cathedral, featuring champagne and homemade cakes, provided an opportunity to discuss the vote face-to-face with local female priests.

Speaking yesterday, Bishop Cottrell said: “In keeping with Christian tradition we are celebrating in the face of adversity but also in anticipation of what will happen.”