Justin Welby
Justin Welby, The next Archbishop of Canterbury, had urged people to vote for women bishops, but the vote failed to secure a two-thirds majority (Reuters) Reuters

The Church of England has voted not to let women become bishops after the ballot did not receive the two third majority it needed to go ahead.

The House of the Bishops and the House of the Clergy were in favour of female bishops, with 44 votes to three and 148 votes to 45 respectively. But the Laity recorded 132 votes for and 74 against. Just two bishops abstained.

Over the course of the day, more 100 speeches were made both for and against the move.

Those who voted for female bishops wanted women to be treated equally in the church, while those against said female bishops contravened scripture.

The vote was preceded by a two-minute prayer and the Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch, urging the Synod to vote in favour. He said a No vote would prolong the for years.

Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, wanted the Synod to back the measure, in order "to speak for millions who want to see us do this".

The next Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, urged support for the motion. "It is time to finish the job and vote for this measure," he said. "The Church of England needs to show how to develop the mission of the church in a way that demonstrates we can manage diversity of view without division. Diversity in amity; not diversity in enmity."

The legislation to allow women to be bishops was backed by 42 out of the 44 CoE dioceses, but to pass it, there needed to be a two-thirds majority.

It was considered to be the biggest decision the Synod has had to make since it approved female priests two decades ago.

The debate was hotly contested.

Those in favour said there was a general consensus within the Church that the role of bishop should be open to women. They added that women priests made up a third of the clergy.

Unity with Roman Catholics

But opponents argued that Jesus chose only men to be his apostles, therefore the spiritual leadership of the CoE should be by men only.

Others said that ordaining women bishops would prevent unity with Roman Catholics.

Prior to the vote, it was speculated that the ballot result would be close.Those in favour said that if the vote did not pass, the Church would be in danger of fading away into irrelevance.

Canon Rosie Harper said: "As a church for the whole country we will be seen to have failed to do what is right and honourable. A church with lower moral standards than the rest of society risks its right to comment on other issues.

"Secondly, it will inevitably be seen as the act of a dying church more wedded to the past than committed to hope for the future."

Rev Rod Thomas, vicar of St Matthew's Elburton, Plymouth and leader of Evangelical group Reform, said the vote itself was forcing CoE members to "accept something that we do not believe the Bible teaches".

It is thought that it could be 2019 before another vote on the issue takes place.