11/30/2013 08:09 EST | Updated 01/30/2014 05:59 EST

Rev. Melissa Skelton Elected Bishop Of New Westminster

VANCOUVER - A female priest has been elected as the new bishop for an Anglican diocese that serves the Vancouver area and the Sunshine Coast.

Rev. Melissa Skelton was elected Saturday on the third ballot, with four nominees remaining.

The Seattle priest was among eight candidates for bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster and replaces the diocese's eighth bishop, Michael Ingham, who retired in August after 20 years at the helm.

Skelton is the first female bishop to head the diocese and will be ordained in March.

The Diocese of New Westminster became the centre of controversy in 2003, when it decided to bless same-sex unions.

The issue led several conservative Anglican leaders around the world to break ties with the diocese, one of 30 dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada.

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