CHURCH of England priests and worshippers in East Lancashire were today putting a brave face on divisions over its narrow rejection of women bishops.

The Anglicans’ General Synod rejected raising females to the episcopate by just six votes on Tuesday.

The proposals to allow women bishops passed both houses of clergy but failed to get the required two-thirds majority in the house of laity, leading to concerns about damaging splits within the church.

Bishop of Burnley and Acting Bishop of Blackburn John Goddard, who voted against the change, said: “The large majority of the Church of England is clearly ready to receive the ministry of women as bishops.

“It is very unfortunate that the synod was put in the position whereby draft legislation failed at final approval because it was unclear in its provision for those who are unable to accept the ministry of women as bishops. There are no winners in yesterday’s vote, which I know will bring both pain and confusion to many.”

Blackburn synod lay member and women bishops opponent Alison Wynne said: “I felt that the proposed legislation did not give adequate provision such that those, who in conscience cannot accept the ministry of women as bishops, feel they have a secure and permanent place in the Church of England. I am sure that we can do better.”

Former vicar of St Bartholomew’s Chipping and warden of readers in the Blackburn Diocese Sue Williams said: “I am disappointed particularly as the majority of those who voted supported women bishops. This was the case in Blackburn diocese.

"While I disagree with them, I understand those who voted against women bishops. I believe we will see them in the church eventually. The Church of England is a family and all families have disagreements.”

Blackburn synod lay member and women bishops supporter Susan Witts said: “The result was disappointing and in the end came down to six votes.

Unfortunately this will not go away and will dominate our discussions — instead of getting on with the real work of the Church”

They spoke out as retiring Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said the CofE had lost ‘credibility’.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu said: “There will be women bishops in my lifetime.”