Service marks 25th anniversary of women’s ordination as priests
12th June 2019
This year is the 25th anniversary of women being ordained into the priesthood in the Church of England. Although many want to celebrate, and indeed did, there was also a feeling of drawing to a close these reminders, so that women’s priestly ministry can just become priestly ministry.
I perceived a tension in how to mark the moment across the country; some dioceses held large get-togethers and marked the moment in creative ways, and others did nothing. For example Southwark diocese commissioned a photographic exhibition showing women quietly going about their ministry – ‘Here I Am‘, that was displayed at the OXO tower.
In this diocese we held a line of ‘quiet celebration’ as we wanted to do both; celebrate and give thanks for our callings, alongside working for a day when we are just priests busy being priests and our gender is incidental, not defining. With this careful balance in mind we invited all women clergy, active and retired, and all of the original 61 women who were ordained in St Albans 25 years ago to a special Eucharist at Flitwick Parish Church followed by lunch.
We were blessed with Abi Thompson, Sub-Dean of the Abbey as our preacher, and Kate Peacock, Dean of Women’s Ministry presided. Liz Hughes, Chaplain at Luton Airport was the Deacon and was one of the original St Albans 61.
It was a joyful celebration and we prayed for and gave thanks for our callings. It was a day to reflect on the past, rejoice in the present and work for the future.
Dean of Women’s Ministry