Real Vicar of Dibley to visit Edinburgh

 The real Vicar of Dibley is coming to an Edinburgh church this evening to launch her autobiography Beneath the Cassock. The Rev Joy Carroll will be at St John's Episcopal Church, Princes Street from 6pm to talk about her life as the inspiration of the hit TV series. She was one of the first women to be ordained as a priest in the UK and became the model for Dawn French's character in the sitcom. The young mum was spotted by Richard Curtis (of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame) during a debate in the Church of England's General Synod. He recruited her to advise him on life as a female vicar as he wrote the series. She ended up working closely with Dawn French, who has written the forward for the book. The star actor and comedienne shadowed Ms Carroll during her working day as a Church of England priest. At one point Ms French even went under cover, pretending to be the organist's assistant while Ms Carroll conducted a funeral service. The new book tells how The Vicar of Dibley helped in Joy Carroll's fight for the acceptance of women priests. Ms Carroll hit the headlines earlier this year when she intervened in the debate over whether to allow women bishops in the Scottish Episcopal Church - a sister church to the Church of England. She spoke out, urging the Scottish Episcopal Church to make the historic change. At the time she said: "There was a lot of fear and uncertainty before the church allowed woman priests. All I can say is that many people were converted when they actually saw a woman priest in action, carrying out her role." Members of the Scottish Episcopal Church's General Synod went on to give overwhelming support to a motion to allow women bishops at their meeting in June. The vote was the first concrete step towards changing 2,000 years of tradition which has reserved the top church job for men. Churches across Scotland are now in the process of discussing the issue further in their own dioceses. The motion will than come back to next year's General Synod. If it is supported by two thirds of Synod members next year, the church's rules or 'Canons' will be changed. If that happens, Scotland could have the first women bishops in the UK by as early as 2004, when the next vacancy occurs. source: Scottish Episcopal Church

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