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National Celebration marking 20 years of the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood in the Church of England

On Saturday May 3rd Sister Sue CSF, who was ordained priest on 16th April 1994 in Oxford Diocese, was among those who gathered on the grass in Dean’s Yard, Westminster where a very large gathering of women clergy, friends and supporters shared picnics in a party atmosphere, enhanced by a sunny day. We were welcomed by the Venerable Dr Jane Hedges, Sub-Dean, Canon Steward and Archdeacon of Westminster, and other senior women clergy who shared memories of the General Synod vote in 1992 and other aspects their vocational experience, which struck a chord with their hearers, especially those many women whose call to the priesthood stretched back over many years. The gathering then walked in the sunshine the nearly 2 miles to St Paul’s Cathedral, led by a marching band. The column of walkers stretched out of sight in both directions along the Victoria Embankment and must have stopped the traffic for a considerable time. As we walked we received many expressions of support from passers by. With hundreds of other women ordained to the priesthood in 1994 Sue was photographed on the steps of St Paul’s with the Archbishop of Canterbury, processed into the Cathedral to very moving continuous applause from the congregation, and was seated under the dome for the celebration Eucharist.

The Crowd being addressed from the steps of Church House, Westminster

The Crowd being addressed from the steps of Church House, Westminster

The walkers leaving deans yard

The walkers leaving deans yard

The walkers leaving deans yard

The walkers leaving deans yard

The Canon Treasurer at St. Paul’s, Canon Philippa Boardman presided and the Archbishop preached a moving, inspiring and challenging sermon. (http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5309/archbishop-justins-sermon-at-service-to-mark-20-years-of-women-priests). Archbishop Justin also very graciously took the Deacon’s role at the service. A very senior priest, the Very Rev’d June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury, and a recently ordained priest Rev’d Kate Boardman, Assistant Curate at St Mary’s Heworth both gave testimonies about their vocational journeys, and the Bishops, now retired, who ordained women in 1994 had a special place in the procession, with Bishop Barry Rogerson, former Bishop of Bristol who presided at the first service for the ordination of women in 1994, reading the Old Testament lesson. Archdeacon Jane Hedges, and Canon Jenny Thomas from Southwark Diocese led the intercessions. Many Diocesan Bishops and other senior clergy attended the service, with a number of diocesan groups having walked with their banners from Westminster to St. Paul’s. St Paul’s was filled to capacity, and the service was also relayed to an overflow congregation of around 200 gathered in Paternoster Square,

On Victoria embankment

On Victoria embankment

On Victoria Embankment

On Victoria Embankment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Srs Elizabeth and Hilary CSF, who were unable to be at the celebration, were also ordained priest in 1994, and now CSF has another 3 ordained sisters, Liz, Beverley,and Helen Julian, currently a deacon, who is to be ordained priest in June.

Worshippers and well-wishers celebrating outside St Pauls

Some of the women ordained to the priesthood in 1994 on the steps of St Paul's

Some of the women ordained to the priesthood in 1994 on the steps of St Paul’s

With the Archbishop of Canterbury