In the Notice Sheet last week there was an article on the 20th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women as Priests. 1994 was an exciting year for women deacons, many of whom had been waiting a long time to be priested.
Until 1987, when women were admitted to the diaconate (ordained Deacon), all clergy posts were filled by men. However, it was back in 1985 that the General Synod (the Church of England’s ‘parliament’) debated the issue of women priests and came to the conclusion that there are “no fundamental objections to the ordination of women to the priesthood”.
History tells us that women were being deployed increasingly in all sorts of professions. The church was no exception. Women had been prominent in missionary work overseas for some time and had also been appointed deaconesses or parish workers.
Scripture points to a number of women in leadership and teaching roles. Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus and was praying with the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Women become the first witnesses to the empty tomb. St Paul also commends as fellow workers: Phoebe, Priscilla, Junia (“outstanding among the apostles” – Roms 16), for example.
Importantly, the enabling, Christ-power of the Holy Spirit was to be given to everyone irrespective of gender. See Acts 2 v 18.
But how did I come to be ordained? It was members of this church who first suggested that I think about ordination. So, I prayed, I talked endlessly with others and ultimately believed that God was calling me to work for him in this way. Eventually, I went to Oak Hill Theological College and since then, I’ve been a Curate in Bishops Stortford and a Vicar in Croxley Green and then in Letchworth.
The vocation has meant long hours and hard work but the absolute joy of ministry surpasses everything. I thank God for the continued privilege of working in the power of the Holy Spirit who is for all God’s people to encourage faith in Jesus, the use of his gifts and commitment to his word.