“THIS sends out a clear and joyful message”.

That is the view of figures within Hampshire’s church community after the Church of England voted in favour of allowing women to become bishops for the first time.

Bishops, clergy and laity in the Church of England General Synod houses all voted in favour of the motion at the University of York yesterday.

There was shock in 2012 after the plan was narrowly defeated.

Now members of the church across the county have reacted positively to the vote.

he Rt Rev Tim Dakin, the Bishop of Winchester, has said: “Synod’s decision has sent out a clear and joyful message. At last, gifted women leaders will be able to serve as bishops. I’m delighted.

“For so long, including in our own diocese of Winchester, the Church of England has benefited greatly from the outstanding ministry of both women and men working together. Now, we can look forward to working together in our mission as bishops as well.

“This has been an emotional journey for many. That applies as much for those who have campaigned steadfastly for this day, as well as those whose traditional views have been challenged by the process. All should continue to have an honoured place both in our Diocese and across the Church. Importantly, this has been properly reflected in the legislation that Synod has passed.”

The Rev Clare Downing, moderator of the Wessex Synod of the United Reformed Church, said: “It’s something that has been on the cards for so long that although there are those who are somewhat upset by it it’s not a surprise to anyone any more.”

The venerable Joanne Grenfell, archdeacon of Portsdown, said: “This is fantastic news for the church of England and the country as a whole. To have women and men together in all areas of the ministry is a true witness to a god who created men and women as equals.”

The Rt Rev Jonathan Frost, the Bishop of Southampton, said: “I am absolutely delighted. This is very good news for women and very good news for women in the church.”