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South India has first woman bishop

04 October 2013

By a staff reporter

Provincial first: Bishop Eggoni Pushpalalitha 

Provincial first: Bishop Eggoni Pushpalalitha 

THE Church of South India has appointed its first woman bishop.

The announcement that the Revd Eggoni Pushpalalitha has been elected as Bishop of Nandyal, South India, comes just days after the Church of Ireland elected its first woman as the Bishop of Meath Kildare (News, 27 September).

Ms Pushpalalitha was consecrated as Bishop of Nandyal diocese on Sunday, after being selected by a four-member panel.

She was ordained priest in 1984, and has served in villages and as head of the Church of South India's women's fellowship. In a statement, she said: "My parents had decided to dedicate me to the Lord even before I was born, as they had already lost two sons. My life has been God's mercy, and I wish to be his servant for life."

Among her priorities is the empowerment of women. "Be it any institution, women are always given second-rung treatment. We need to change that by promoting values that teach us to not to discriminate and treat all humans the same.

"I hail from a village, and my parents sold their land to educate me. I want every girl from such a background to get the best education possible. Only education can change lives."

The Provincial Secretary of the Church of South India, Mani Philip, told the Anglican Communion news service: "We have been ordaining women since 1976." In its constitution, the province mandates that at least 25 per cent of all statutory bodies should be made up of women, he said.

The Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson, knows Bishop Pushpal, as she will be known, well. The diocese of Oxford runs a charity that builds capacity in schools in South India, and, as chairman of the Board of Education for the diocese, he is a frequent visitor. He said that Bishop Pushpal was a "remarkable person.

"She was the only female priest in the diocese, and she has served there for 30 years. That she has been elected as bishop in her rather conservative diocese really says a lot."

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