25 years of women's ministry

by Michael Ford last modified 14 Mar, 2019 04:57 PM

The ordination of women in the Church of England celebrates 25 years this Tuesday and Bishop Karen has been speaking of her own recollections of the first female ordinations.

Speaking on Radio Solent on Sunday morning, Bishop Karen said that she was at Theological College on 12 March 1994, when the first 32 women were ordained as Church of England priests.

The service was in Bristol Cathedral and when asked what she was doing at the time, the first female Bishop of Sherborne told Sunday Morning Presenter Tim Daykin:
"I was tuning in like everyone else.

"I was training to be a deacon, when I was told that I could now be ordained as a priest. I was one of thousands of women who since then have had their vocations recognised. We just wanted to be the person God wanted us to be, but there was this joy that the Church of England could now reflect God's love for all."

The number of female clergy is now at a record high with women making up nearly a third of the 20,000 active clergy in the Church of England, and they now make up the majority of those undertaking non-stipendiary ministry.

Overall, there has been a 22% rise in both women and men starting training for ordained ministry since 2016, but women now make up the majority of those starting training for the priesthood.

Legislation allowing women to be consecrated as bishops came into force at the end of 2014 after approval by the Church of England’s national assembly and now four female diocesan bishops currently sit in the House of Lords – with a fifth, the Bishop of Derby, due to join shortly.

In 2017, nearly a quarter (23%) of stipendiary clergy in senior posts, such as bishops, deans and archdeacons, were female.

Bishop Karen reflected that "We have made a huge leap in 25 years."

Speaking later about the 30 women now in our Diocese, who were ordained priest around the C of E in 1994, a few in Salisbury, Bishop Karen said:
"We celebrate with them this important anniversary of their ordination."

During the radio interview, Bishop Karen was asked about those in the Church who do not accept the ordination of women and she said:
"While the majority believe that women should be ordained, there are some who don't and here in the Diocese of Salisbury, provision has been made for them.

"Just as here, through the Church of England, we have a healthy atmosphere of mutual flourishing."

#justapriest25
25 years after the ordination of the first women priests, tweets are going out in celebration of the everyday, the extraordinary, and everything in between, of being a priest and a woman. 
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