Search for the next bishop of London raises the prospect of a women, in an appointment

The Church of England is considering candidates for its third senior position, the bishop of London, amid speculation that a woman can be appointed.

Richard Chartres, who has held the post since 1996, is obligated to retire this year in which he turns 70 years. He will step down at the end of February.

C And s Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) will make a recommendation in the next few weeks, the prime minister, Theresa May. She in turn will inform the Queen, which is formally the appointment of the new bishop. Recent custom has been that the prime minister rubber-stamps the first choice of the CNC.

In the last two years, after the division, the debate within the C, And, 10 women have been consecrated bishops. However, only two – Rachel Treweek of Gloucester, and Christine Hardman of Newcastle – senior (diocesan) bishops appointed to seats in the house of Lords.

Rachel Treweek, the bishop of Gloucester. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

The bishop of London, that comes after the archbishop of Canterbury and the archbishop of York, in C And hierarchy, has a seat in the house of Lords. The post holder also acts as dean of the Chapel Royal, essentially, chaplain of the royal family.

Since his appointment, Chartres has refused to ordain women, in a concession to traditionalists in his deeply divided diocese. He has also abstained from the ordination of men to not be accused of discrimination. But he indicated that he personally is “very pro-women priests.”

His immediate predecessors, David Hope, and Graham Leonard, were both opponents of female priests. The diocese of London, which covers the city north of the Thames, has a strong factions for and against the ordination of women.

“Many people are now in search of a bishop who, if not a woman, at least it would be convenient for the ordination of women. That would be a positive signal for the church to send out,” said a church source.

Among the possible female candidates Rose Hudson-Wilkin, currently chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and chaplain to the Queen. Hudson-Wilkin, who has been tipped as a future bishop for many years, is also one of the most senior black clergy in the church.

Rose Hudson-Wilkin, chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and chaplain to the Queen. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

“She is head and shoulders above most of the other candidates, absolutely brilliant, is set in London, and can do all the ceremonial of state stuff that comes with the job,” said a supporter.

Treweek, who was consecrated bishop of Gloucester, in the month of July 2015, is another strong candidate. She has criticized the church for its lack of diversity and highlighted the issue of body image among children from the beginning of his post, saying that the church must engage with the daily life of the people.

Also thought to be in the frame are Vivienne Faull, the highly respected dean of York and also in the long tipped to be a bishop, and Jo Wells, bishop of Dorking, the former chaplain of Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury.

Hardman is thought to be an unlikely candidate, as she will only be able to serve for more than four years before reaching the statutory retirement age.

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Another consideration for the CNC is that wing of the church and the next bishop of London could represent. Recent incumbents have come from an Anglo-Catholic background, but the CNC can choose a gospel to take the place of Chartres.

In the last 20 years, from Chartres appointment, has seen the extraordinary rise of Holy Trinity Brompton, west London, evangelical church that pioneered the Alpha course. HTB, as is well known, within the C And has become very influential, with strong links with leading figures in the church institution, including Welby. Alpha courses now in the UK and around the world.

Graham Tomlin, the bishop of Kensington and the president of St Mellitus College, which trains ordinands in HTB is so approach, which may be a competitor from the evangelical wing.

The CNC is composed of 14 members with voting rights: Welby, the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, three elected clergy members of the synod; three elected lay members of the synod; and six elected members of the diocese, in which there is a vacancy. Everyone has an equal vote.

After deliberations, the CNC will forward two names to the prime minister in order of preference. The prime minister has the right to ask for further names.

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The last time that the CNC preference was not accepted in 1987, when Margaret Thatcher rejected the recommendation of the liberal Jim Thompson as bishop of Birmingham.

However, Can the daughter of a pastor and a regular churchgoer, is expected to pass the church’s top recommendation to the Queen.

Chartres led Thatcher’s funeral service, was executor of the will of Diana, Princess of Wales, has confirmed the Prince William and then delivered the sermon at the prince’s wedding to Kate Middleton. Welby is the third archbishop of Canterbury in the time Chartres has held the office of bishop of London.