The Church of England has been told to be bold when it appoints women bishops and to consecrate more than "one or two" by the cleric who ordained the first women priests.
The Rt Rev Barry Rogerson, former Bishop of Bristol, warned that the "boys' club" atmosphere in the House of Bishops would not be dispelled if the Church limited itself to appointing a small number of women bishops.
His remarks come as the Church of England was expected to give final approval to the legislation introducing women bishops in July, paving the way for the first female bishop to be appointed early next year.
"I am saddened that we are 20 years on and we still have not yet got there, but it looks to me as if it is now going to take place, and not before time," he said.
"I am slightly saddened that there will be a number of women who are really people of great ability and would have given a lot to the Church of England who will now be too old to be consecrated as bishops.
"I hope that there won't just be one or two. All the experience in other parts of the world is that you need a reasonable number if you are going to beat the boys' club."
The Bishop Rogerson, 77, who now lives in Clevedon in Somerset, has been involved with the process for decades, having ordained the first 32 women as priests at a service in Bristol Cathedral in March 1994.
"I am delighted that we are celebrating 20 years and there will be a wonderful coming together of the women ordained in that first period and we hope that people will feel that it is a time of some joy and satisfaction," he said.
"The majority of the Church of England now accepts that women priests are an important part of the Church of England's ministry and that is marvellous."
The Rev Brenda Dowie, 56, a former infant school teacher, originally from Orkney, was among the first group to be ordained by the Rt Rev Rogerson in 1994.
She was a curate in Christ Church, Downend, near Bristol, before becoming chaplain at St Peter's Hospice in the city and then moving to work as a hospital chaplain for the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The Bristol resident, said the service conducted by Bishop Rogerson had been "wonderful".
"I still smile 20 years later. It was wonderful service," she said. "Many of the women had been waiting a lifetime with a vocation and belief while some of us had been a year or 18 months or a couple of years, so it was very special.
"The bishop, Barry Rogerson was so positive and so warm. It was enormously welcoming."