The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has consecrated its first woman bishop in Africa.
Ellinah Wamukoya, 61, will serve as the church’s bishop in the small, conservative kingdom of Swaziland.
Her consecration comes as the Church of England is due to vote on whether to allow women to become bishops.
“We have taken this step, and we wish the Church of England ‘God speed’ as they deliberate this week,” Cape Town’s Anglican archbishop said.
The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said in a statement: “The thunder is rumbling as I write: We have witnessed a great occasion, and now it does indeed seem that the heavens are about to fall upon us – the falling of rain, which this country and its people so desperately need.
David Dinkebogile led Saturday’s ceremony and stressed that the gathering was to consecrate a bishop “not a black woman, not an African, not a Swazi woman”.
“She was to be pastor to all, to men and women, to black and white, to Swazis and all others in her diocese,” he said.
Bishop Wamukoya is a former mayor of Swaziland’s economic capital, Manzini, reports the AFP news agency.
“I am going to try to represent the mother attribute of God,” she told the AP news agency.
“A mother is a caring person but at the same time, a mother can be firm in doing whatever she is doing,” she said.