Mr Millward, 31, ministers to the congregations of Pennywell and Grindon, Sunderland, while his wife, Caroline, is a deaconess and a hospital chaplain. She hopes to join the priesthood, but he opposes the ordination of women.
So after being a vicar for eight years he is preparing to join the Roman Catholics. 'I can't imagine myself as anything other than a priest, but it is quite possible that I will join the laity,' he said. 'I have to listen to my conscience and that tells me I can't remain with the Church of England if women's ordination is approved.'
The religious rift does not extend to their married life, he said. 'If anything it has brought us closer together.' Caroline, 31, said: 'I don't feel slighted by his decision. I respect his integrity.'
Mark said: 'We have discussed the situation with people in the parish and their reaction is one of some confusion, some are worried about losing their clergy. But this is a decision I have not taken lightly.'