Diocese of ChichesterDiocese of Chichester

Celebrations mark 25 years of women's ordination to the priesthood

Celebrations mark 25 years of women's ordination to the priesthood

Events are taking place to mark a quarter of a century of women’s ordination to the priesthood in the Church of England.

The first group of women were ordained priests on Saturday 12 March 1994, in Bristol Cathedral.

Following a celebration at Lambeth Palace attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, services will be held at cathedrals and churches throughout the country.

Meanwhile the number of women entering training for ministry continues to grow.

On Friday, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby welcomed more than 80 priests to Lambeth Palace for a service to mark the milestone.

Those participating ranged from bishops to women training for the priesthood, with The Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain, giving the sermon. Speaking at the service, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: "Many of those here today have been pioneers as they work out what it means to be an ordained woman in the Church of England – not just for themselves and their communities, but for the whole of the Body of Christ. “Today let us bear witness to those who paved the way in 1994, as well as upholding those whose way into ministry has been opened up since.”

Women now make up nearly a third of the 20,000 active clergy in the Church of England according to the latest figures which also show a 38% increase in the number of women starting training for ordained ministry in the past two years.

Dr Mandy Ford, Director of the Church of England’s Ministry Division, said: “As we celebrate this anniversary, it is wonderful to see how increasing numbers of women are hearing God’s call to ministry and bringing their varied gifts and life experiences to serve God in the Church. "We are encouraging more women to follow in their footsteps and consider the call to ordained ministry.”

With the candidates presented in alphabetical order, Angela Berners-Wilson became the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood, after final legislation had been passed by General Synod on 11 November 1992.

To celebrate the anniversary, Rev Jules Middleton from TRINITY Church in Lewes started a #JustAPriest25. She said: “For me, this is about celebration. There are so many amazing women and men who went before and fought so hard for us to be accepted as priests in the Church of England. “I want to celebrate their hard work and dedication, and I want to celebrate us as we get on and do the stuff.”

You can read more about this on Jule’s blog: http://www.pickingapplesofgold.com/justapriest25/...

How to join in with #JustAPriest25 • on the day, why not put out a few tweets about what you are doing in your role as a priest that day. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #JustAPriest25 • pictures/ short videos are good as they can be more visible and reach a wider audience, and possibly get shared in a wider sense. Pics that show you in your priestly role would be extra good! • tell your story of how you were called to the priesthood • tag in others who have inspired you, or supported you in your ministry

If you are a supporter you could: • share encouraging stories of female clergy you know, or have worked with • if you are a female minister in another denomination you could share stories from your own ministry life in solidarity with women who are priests • if you are exploring vocation or are an ordinand, why not share stories of female clergy who inspire you, or your own hopes for your future ministry