THE heavens opened up as worshippers spilled out of the Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday to welcome the new bishop of the Anglican Church's Grafton diocese.
Dr Sarah Macneil was consecrated in Grafton at the weekend to become the diocese's eleventh bishop and the church's first female to lead an Anglican diocese, marking a new era for the Anglican Church of Australia.
The consecration ceremony, which ran for more than two-and-a-half hours, was watched by hundreds of guests and worshippers who were seated both in the church and neighbouring Hunt Hall, which was connected to a live television feed.
Raindrops started to fall as she ended her prayer address outside the church with a simple message: "Let us go in peace and celebrate."
Church members Bill and Lyn Johnston said it was great to see the church swelling with so many people.
"It was lovely to feel the unanimous feeling of everyone's support for a lady bishop, and I think the number of people that have gathered today speaks for itself," Mrs Johnstone said.
"It's a positive thing for the diocese. It shows that we are a loving, caring community."
It wasn't just locals who attended, many people made the journey from across the diocese and wider region.
Bishops and ministers from across the country - including four other women bishops from across Australia - were in attendance, as well as state and federal government representatives.
Casino parish lay minister Dolly Fletcher said she got up at 5am in the morning so she wouldn't be late for the start of the ceremony at 10am.
"It's such a milestone having a woman bishop, hopefully there will be more," she said.