A newly-appointed bishop who has faced calls to resign over his opposition to women priests has been publicly supported by 36 women clergy who say he "created a real buzz" in his old diocese.
Philip North, 50, is currently Bishop of Burnley, but will become Bishop of Sheffield later this year.
He is well-known in the church as a charismatic speaker and was clearly popular among female clergy, many of whom say they had concerns about his views before his appointment.
Signatories of a public letter said Bishop Philip had gone "the extra mile to affirm and share in the ministry of women clergy".
Bishop North is the first bishop to be appointed to a senior post who disagrees with women becoming priests since the Church passed new legislation allowing women to become bishops in November 2014.
In 2012 he withdrew from a post as Bishop of Whitby amid controversy about his views on women clergy.
The controversy partly stems from his continued membership of the Council of Bishops of a conservative group called The Society, which opposes women becoming ordained and does not recognise priests ordained by women bishops.
According to its rules, "Priests of the Society" can only be "male priests, ordained by a bishop in the male historic succession".
Last week the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Reverend Martyn Percy, invited him to decline the appointment, saying it would "feel like a step backwards for many parishes and clergy".
Philip is a gifted bishop with a real heart for the less privileged in society, and someone who is willing to speak out and give a voice to the voiceless
Rt Rev Jan McFarlane
Sheffield churchgoers have also signed a letter addressed to Bishop North expressing "concern and disappointment" at his appointment.
Rev Percy added: "Sheffield is a go-ahead, vibrant, progressive city, with cutting-edge universities and research-led industries. It is thoroughly modern.
"The public will neither comprehend nor welcome this rather fogeyish sacralised sexism of the religious organisation known simply as ‘The Society’, whose Council of Bishops includes Bishop Philip North."
The letter of support, addressed to the Church Times newspaper, was co-ordinated by the Rev Canon Fleur Green, Advisor for Women's Ministry in the Diocese of Blackburn.
The Bishop has been popular in the diocese for reaching out to those in some of the more deprived areas of Burnley.
He has frequently criticised the Church for being elitist and too concerned with sexuality at the expense of tackling social inequality.
Last year he said the Church of England was too dominated by the middle classes to understand the concerns that led to Brexit.
In a piece written for the Church Times last December, he said the Church was dominated by "academia, the moneyed elites, and certain sections of the secular media".
He also criticised the Church for neglecting deprived areas in a speech to the Church of England's Synod in February last year.
Three female bishops also publicly backed his appointment, saying female clergy would find him a "thoughtful and caring pastor".
The Bishop of Repton, the Rt Rev Jan McFarlane, said: "Philip is a gifted bishop with a real heart for the less privileged in society, and someone who is willing to speak out and give a voice to the voiceless."
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, also wrote in the Yorkshire Post that his appointment would go ahead and insisted that women priests would be "encouraged, inspired, and furthered in their ministry" by the bishop.