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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 June 2006, 21:39 GMT 22:39 UK
Female chief makes Church history
Katharine Jefferts Schori - Copyright: 2003 Episcopal Church
Katharine Jefferts Schori has made church history with her election
The US Episcopal Church has chosen a woman as its next leader - making it the first church anywhere in the Anglican denomination to do so.

Katharine Jefferts Schori narrowly won a vote among her fellow bishops at a governing General Convention meeting.

The choice must still be approved by delegates at the convention, where the bishops' vote is normally backed.

The choice could prove controversial - most other Anglican Churches around the world do not allow women to be bishops.

The bishops voted 95-93 to back Bishop Jefferts Schori after a number of ballots, AP news agency reported. A total of seven candidates were in the running for the post.

Gay row

It is the second contentious issue for the convention.

Born 1954 in Pensacola, Florida
Consecrated Bishop of Nevada in 2001
Supporter of ordination of gay bishops

A separate row has been raging over gay bishops, nearly three years after the Americans sparked fury from African Churches and other traditionalists by ordaining the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The convention in Ohio is under pressure to "repent" of its decision to ordain him, to ban future openly gay bishops and to end the blessing of same-sex unions in church services.

A compromise is being considered to offer repentance only for the effect on the wider Church.

As well as facing possible opposition to her election, Bishop Jefferts Schori faces challenges within the Church too.

Membership has been shrinking for years, and a quarter of the remaining 2.3m parishioners are 65 or older.

Some conservative sections of the Church are also threatening to break away.

Ms Schori celebrates being chosen as leader

Woman heads Anglican church: Your views
19 Jun 06 |  Have Your Say
Conservatives warn of Church split
09 Oct 03 |  Americas
African divide over gay bishop
08 Sep 03 |  Africa
US church backs gay bishop
01 Aug 03 |  Americas
Q&A: The Anglican Communion
06 Aug 03 |  In Depth

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