Happy Anniversary

Twenty years ago today 32 women were ordained as priests in the Church of England for the first time ever. This momentous event was the cause of great rejoicing to many. Since then, of course, many more women have joined the ranks of the priesthood and I hope and pray that it will not be much longer before some of them also join them ranks of the episcopate as well.
Curiously our chapter meeting this lunchtime was an all-male affair. Much as I love my brother clergy, it felt as though there was something missing, and rather like being in a grown-up version of the boy’s grammar school where I received my secondary education. Twenty years on, I find it hard to recall a time when the voice and experience of 50% of humanity was unrepresented in the ordained ministry and leadership of our church.
I know that there remains much to be done, not only in the final push to get the legislation for women in the episcopate through General Synod but also in continuing to address some very unpleasant attitudes and unacceptable behaviour that remain in a small minority in the church. But we can only pray that this will be overcome sooner rather than later.
So, happy anniversary! And here’s to the next twenty years when perhaps we will be talking simply about priests and bishops with no gender qualifiers.

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