'I nearly burst into tears' - Norfolk's first woman Bishop tells of shock

New bishop of Lynn, the Ven Dr Jane Steen.

New bishop of Lynn, the Ven Dr Jane Steen. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Norfolk's first woman bishop has said its an enormous privilege to be "carrying the torch" for a more diverse church following the historic announcement.

The Venerable Dr Jane Steen, who is currently the Archdeacon of Southwark, will be the next Bishop of Lynn.

The new bishop, who has previously lived in Cambridge, said she had no thought of ever working in Norfolk but that the appointment made her heart sing and was "purely serendipity", adding that she looked forward to listening and learning from local communities and clergy.

New bishop of Lynn, the Ven Dr Jane Steen.

New bishop of Lynn, the Ven Dr Jane Steen. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Dr Steen, who was among the first group of people studying for the ministry where women could be ordained a priest, said she was overwhelmed by the appointment, and that other women clergy and lay women were "really encouraged".

She said: "I nearly burst into tears when I was telling people about it. 

"I think one of the hallmarks of our time is that both in the church and more widely we just have to accept we are a very diverse population and church, and there is gifting.

"There should therefore be opportunity from people of all walks of life, and we shouldn't judge people or make prior assessment on people's gender, skin colour, cultural background or social class.

New bishop of Lynn, the Ven Dr Jane Steen.

New Bishop of Lynn Jane Steen - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"It's a privilege to carry the torch for that.

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"I am glad to say now there are other women bishops - it's becoming more normal - just as black and minority ethnic people I hope will be coming through the church more."

The new bishop hopes to tackle poverty of opportunity in education and diversity, adding that she was excited by the quality of CofE schools in the county.

Bishop of Lynn designate, the Ven Dr Jane Steen and husband Pip.

Bishop of Lynn designate, the Ven Dr Jane Steen and husband Pip. - Credit: Diocese of Norwich

Dr Steen, who will move to Dereham with her husband Pip, said outside of the ministry she looked forward to a different way of life and spending more time outdoors on walks and cycling.

She toured the Lynn Archdeaconry on Wednesday, April 28 with visits to King’s Lynn Minster, a smallholding near Dereham, a coastal parish church lunch club on the North Norfolk coast, ending with attendance at evensong at Norwich Cathedral.

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