Members have voted to refer the legislation for further discussion on Monday, when a vote is planned.
Women now constitute a third of priests and there is a widespread feeling among Anglicans that the new role should be open to them.
But plans to exempt traditionalists from serving under women bishops have caused division within the Church.
Not since the Church voted to create women priests in 1992 has it faced such a momentous decision, says BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott.
There has been a wish not to alienate traditionalists who oppose women bishops and the ending of centuries of tradition, our correspondent added.
This has resulted in a proposal that would give traditionalist parishes the right of access to an alternative, male, bishop, who shared their beliefs about women clergy.
But some liberal Anglicans claim this would render women "second class" bishops and they may vote to reject the draft legislation, along with conservatives opposed to it.
With the numbers so finely balanced, the stage is set for a dramatic debate on Monday, and a cliff-hanging moment as the vote is cast”
Q&A: Women bishops vote
Earlier, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urged clergy and bishops from the Canterbury Diocese to approve the legislation in order for it to be debated further on Monday.
"We are looking into the abyss now," he warned.
"Like the majority of members of the synod, and the majority of the members of the Church of England, I am very firmly of the view that we need to proceed as speedily as we can to resolve this question because I, like most of you, long to see women bishops in the Church of England," he said.
"I also long for there to be the kind of provision for those who continue to have theological reservations on this subject, for their position to be secured in such a way that they can feel grateful for the outcome as others do."
The Synod could also opt to adjourn the debate further to allow amendments made to the proposal in May to be reconsidered.
Any adjournment would delay a final vote until November at the earliest. But a defeat would mean the appointment of women bishops would be at least another five years away.
The Synod needs a two-thirds majority in all three houses of the General Synod, of bishops, clergy and laity.
If approved there, it would be sent to Parliament for approval and Royal Assent. The earliest likely date for a woman bishop to be appointed would be 2014.
So far more than 1,000 lay Anglo-Catholics and 80 priests dissatisfied with the direction the Church of England is taking over women bishops have left to join the Ordinariate set up by the Vatican in 2011 for former Anglicans.
Headlines Newsview all
A MUSLIM hate preacher who was allowed to tour British mosques and spread the message of jihad may have planted the idea of the London ... Full story
Figures produced by the Department of Health show that, since 2007-8, the UK has paid £6.18billion in health costs for British citizens in Europe – ... Full story
ISLAMIC State has issued a chilling video warning that London is next to be hit by a terror attack at least as deadly as the ... Full story
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
- Chilling moment woman is followed into off-licence before being lured into woods and raped
- Battered into a coma for complaining about dog barking at night: Thug jailed for LIFE
- 27 stone obese mum books CRUISE then asks YOU to fund £10k operation to lose weight
'Running Man' police recruitment video challenging officers around the world to a dance off sends the internet wild
Officers were filmed performing popular dance move in station car parkThe video was posted on Facebook and has been viewed 810,000 timesForce challenged officers across ...
'I gave my family £20million - now they don't speak to me': Lotto winner who scooped £148million jackpot with her ex-husband claims the win has ruined her life
Gillian Bayford, 43, claims she has not spoken to her family for one year She handed her mother, brother and father £20m after landing prize in ...
Invasion of the KILLER CATERPILLARS: Plague of toxic oak moths has hit the UK with wildlife experts urging people to report nests as soon as they spot them
Wildlife experts issue appeal after plague of toxic caterpillars invade BritainPeople asked to report nests of oak processionary moths if they spot themInvasion began last week ...
Killing of Yellowstone grizzly, Scarface, is now under investigation by the US Fish and Wildlife ServicesGrizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act and most killings ...
Clinton faced angry voters in West Virginia during a campaign stop Bo Copley, an unemployed father, asked why voters should believe her pledge to help revitalize ...
Qatar Airways commence daily services to Adelaide on Tuesday afternoonWill be marked with a flight by Australia's first A350 aircraft The A350 is designed to minimise jet lag and reduce flying time Estimated to bring $41 ...
Sam Dastyari apologises for attack on Adelaide after calling out Liberal senator Corey Bernardi for living in South Australia
New South Wales senator Sam Dastyari has apologised for a 'poor joke' He slammed South Australian senator Corey Bernardi for living in AdelaideMr Dastyari said he ...
Woman tried to open the cabin door of a plane that was still in the air Incident took place on a Jetstar flight between Sydney and ...
Wind gusts of up to 100km/h hit Melbourne and parts of Victoria on Tuesday as cold front moves throughBureau of Meteorology has issued a severe ...
Reserve Bank of Australia has cut rates to a record low 1.75 per cent The announcement has been made just hours ahead of the budget release Homeowners ...