The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has accomplished something that the Church of England has never done -- ordain its first female bishop.
Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya, 61, will serve as the bishop of the kingdom of Swaziland, her native country. She succeeds the Rt. Rev. Meshack Mabuza, who was installed as bishop of Swaziland in 2002.
Wamukoya was formerly the chaplain at the University of Swaziland and St. Michael’s High School in Manzini and also served as chief executive officer of the City Council in Manzini.
"I am going to try to represent the mother attribute of God," she told Associated Press.
"A mother is a caring person but at the same time, a mother can be firm in doing whatever she is doing."
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, the Church of England is scheduled to vote on allowing women to become bishops.
"We have taken this step, and we wish the Church of England 'God speed' as they deliberate this week," The Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, said in a statement.
“May we all continue to follow Christ in calling all those who are at the margins of our church and society, so they may find themselves at the center of God’s love and his welcoming embrace.”
The Very Rev. David Dinkebogile, dean of the Diocese of Christ the King, who officiated at Wamukoya’s ordination, praised her as “not a black woman, not an African, not a Swazi woman, but a priest of the church… to be pastor to all, to men and women, to black and white, to Swazis and all others in her diocese.”
It is unclear if the Church of England will follow suit, although the new Archbishop of Canterbury, The Rt Rev Justin Welby, endorses allowing women as bishops. Traditionalists within the church hierarchy reportedly oppose the measure.
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones, a prominent evangelical, has switched his views on the subject.
"I now believe that for the mission of God to the people of England it is right for women to take up their place in this House of Bishops sitting before you now," he told the church’s general synod.
BBC reported that women now account for one-third of the 11,000 clergy-members in the Church of England.
Approval of the measure will require two-thirds majorities in each of the general synod's three segments: bishops, clergy and laity.