Ahead of the vote, Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, said the general public would find it “almost incomprehensible” should the General Synod fail to support the move.
The long-running debate pitted reformers, keen to project a more modern and egalitarian image of the church as it struggles with falling congregations in many increasingly secular countries, against a minority of conservatives who see the change as contradicting the Bible.
The issue of female clergy has divided Anglicanism globally.
Women serve as bishops in the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand but Anglican churches in many developing countries do not even ordain them as priests.
The Church approved the ordination of women priests in 1992, but delayed making them bishops because of opposition within its previously all-male clergy.
Traditionalists within the church, however, opposed the move to ordain female bishops, claiming that their argument is based on theology.
“In principle the bible teaches that men and women were created equal but different,” Susie Leafe, director of Reform, told Al Jazeera. “God has different roles for us in the church in the chrch family, and so for me bishop represents a role that is designed for man.”
The Church of England is part of the Anglican Communion, which has the largest Christian denomination in Britain and a presence in more than 160 countries. (Aljazeera)