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Former Anglican archbishop known for supporting women, gays dies Add to ...

The former archbishop of B.C. and the Yukon, who was known for his progressive stance in favour of women and gays, has died at age 94.

Archbishop David Somerville ordained two of the first female priests in the Anglican Church at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver on Dec. 30, 1976 - the first day the practice took place in parishes worldwide.

Church spokesman Randy Murray says Archbishop Somerville, the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, retired in 1980.

The same year, Archbishop Somerville encouraged the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in church ministry with the establishment of an organization to support them and their families.

Over the years, his duties included leading the board at the Anglican Church of Canada's national headquarters in Toronto.

A memorial service for Archbishop Somerville, who is survived by a niece, will be held on Saturday.

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