The (Lutheran) Church of Norway has for the first time elected a woman as its presiding bishop, although her tenure is for an interim period, the Norwegian News Agency (NTB) reports.

Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien of Borg is to succeed Bishop Olav Skjaevesland of Agder, who has held the post since 2006, the bishops’ conference in Norway said.

Byfuglien’s term will end in mid-2011, as the Church of Norway then will have its first permanent presiding bishop based in the country’s ancient ecclesiastical capital of Nidaros or Trondheim as it is known now.

“I will strive to play a unifying role in the meantime [while a presiding bishop is chosen],” Bishop Byfuglien told NTB.

Earlier in 2010 Bishop Byfuglien was elected one of the vice presidents of the Geneva-based Lutheran World Federation. In 2007 she represented the Church of Norway at the European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, Romania.

Born and raised in Bergen on Norway’s west coast, Byfuglien has been general secretary of the Norwegian YMCA/YWCA and a pastor in Trondheim and Aas. She has been bishop of Borg, based in Fredrikstad, southeast of Oslo, since 2005. She is one of four women among the 11 Church of Norway bishops.