First female bishop to sit in Lords says she doesn't like seeing all-women clergy leading services

Anita Singh
The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek was appointed as bishop of Gloucester in 2015  - Jay Williams

The first woman bishop to sit in the House of Lords has said she feels "frustrated" at seeing all-female clergy leading Church of England services.

The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek was appointed as bishop of Gloucester in 2015 and said at the time she was overjoyed by her new role.

However, she believes it is undesirable to see women "at the front" of the church with no men beside them.

Appearing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival to discuss her journey towards becoming a bishop, she spoke of "discovering the joy of being in leadership alongside men, as an equal" and having "the privilege of working with an amazing male vicar".

She went on: "Sometimes now, I get frustrated when I go to churches where I see all women at the front in positions of leadership, just as I used to get frustrated seeing all men at the front of leadership.

"For me, I want to see diverse leadership of all sorts, and part of that includes men and women working together."

She recalled a primary school essay in which she wrote of wanting to be an author when she grew up. "My teacher at the time crossed out the word 'author' and corrected it to 'authoress'. It really makes me smile now when I think about my passion for equality. I am most definitely a bishop, and not a bishops," she said.

When she was at theological college in the 1990s "within the college as well as the Church of England there were a large number of people who did not believe that women should be priests. It was sometimes a challenging territory to negotiate," she said.

The former speech therapist is a former Archdeacon of Hackney in east London.

Last month she said the Church should be "mindful of our language" and avoid constantly referring to God as "he", explaining: "Whether it's that you go to a website and you see pictures of all white people, or whether you go to a website and see the use of 'he' when we could use 'god', all of those things are giving subconscious messages to people, so I am very hot about saying can we always look at what we are communicating."