CHURCH leaders have appointed Northampton's first woman archdeacon to replace the venerable Michael Chapman who retires this week.
Canon Christine Allsopp will be one of only six serving women archdeacons in the country when she takes up the post early next year.
The mother-of-three was among the first wave of women priests to be ordained by the Church of England in 1994.
Canon Allsopp said: "I have been very used to being the first woman to take on a post throughout my time. I was the first woman deacon in my parish and the first team rector in Salisbury where I am now.
"I am used to being in that situation so I don't feel I have anything to prove.
"I hope people will simply see me as the next archdeacon."
A former research chemist and technical editor, she became a deacon in 1989 when her religious calling led her to make a dramatic career change.
After that, Canon Allsopp faced a five-year wait before the church controversially decided to allow the ordination of women priests.
She said: "It seemed a long time to wait because of the frustrations involved. I wanted to be a priest, I felt God was calling me but I had to wait for the church to say yes."
Canon Allsopp currently works as team rector of the Bourne Valley and Rural Dean of Alderbury near Salisbury in Wiltshire.
As Rural Dean, Canon Allsopp has strived to help churches in her deanery to work collaboratively.
She is also a church school governor and has developed close links with Scandinavian churches.
Canon Allsopp, who is married to Dennis, a chartered biologist, said she is looking forward to taking up her new post in Northampton.
She said: "I am excited by the Peterborough diocese's vision to establish vibrant Christian fellowship at the heart of every community.
"I am passionate about the potential of groups of parishes to be more than an administrative arrangements for delivering ministry.
"I hope to help them use the strengths gained from working collaboratively to enable people to look outwards as confident Christians."