The Church of England has voted to put a historic decision on introducing the first women bishops on hold amid continuing divisions over the issue.
Members of the General Synod backed delaying a final approval debate for legislation introducing women bishops to allow for further consideration of a controversial last-minute amendment made by the Church of England bishops.
The move comes after protests from senior female clergy who said the amendment would have enshrined discrimination against women in the law.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warned the meeting at York University that an adjournment would not be a "panacea" but would give a chance to "lower the temperature" within the Church of England over the dispute.
"It is quite clear that the reaction cannot be ignored," he said.
"When there is a reaction of real hurt and offence in the Church, Christians, and Christian pastors in particular, cannot afford to ignore it."
He added: "An adjournment gives us at least the chance of lowering the temperature and explaining ourselves to each other."
The General Synod members voted 288 in favour of an adjournment, 144 against and 15 abstained.
The move means that the bishops of the Church of England will reconsider the amendment - known as clause 5 (1) (c) with the legislation set to return for final approval in November.
The vote comes after the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester and chairman of the steering committee for the legislation, said it would be "nothing short of tragic and hugely damaging" to the Church's reputation if the legislation were to be voted down.
"We need to get this legislation right, we need to get it passed. If to achieve that a little more time and reflection is required, then so be it," he said.