Reverend Sally Hitchiner, the chaplain of Brunel University, leaves after the vote for women bishops failed during the Church of England Synod at Church House in London November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The Church of England voted on Tuesday against allowing women bishops after it failed to win the support of enough lay members for the reform, leaving the Church facing more internal strife over an issue that has divided it for years.

After hours of debate, the General Synod, the Church legislature made up of separate houses for bishops, clergy and laity, fell just short of the two-thirds majority required in all three houses to pass the measure.

“It was carried in the houses of bishops and clergy, but lost in the house of laity. The motion having been lost … we do not proceed any further,” said Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

Some women priests in the public gallery wiped tears from their eyes after Sentamu read out the results. The vote among lay members fell short by just four votes.