‘A Celebration of 30 years of Women Priests service’ will take place on Saturday 4th May 2024 at Bradford Cathedral

March 2024 marks 30 years since the first women in the Church of England were ordained as priests. Bradford Cathedral will be marking this anniversary, later in the spring, at a special service on Saturday 4th May 2024, almost thirty years to the day when the first women were ordained at Bradford Cathedral, on Sunday 8th May 1994.

The special service – which takes place at 11am and will focus on women’s voices – will be led by the Revd Canon Dr Sue Penfold, who was ordained at Bradford Cathedral at one of these first ordinations, and still regularly leads services at the Cathedral.

Also at the service, the Rt Revd Anna Eltringham – Bishop of Ripon – will be preaching and there will be commissioning of several new ‘Women’s Ministry Advisors’ for the Diocese of Leeds. All are welcome to attend the service.

Bradford Cathedral is also looking to speak to people who were at the services in 1994 to capture their memories of the day.

The Revd Pete Gunstone, Minor Canon for Worship and Nurture, says:
“This is an important service that will celebrate the whole ministry of all the women of God, lay and ordained, as well as celebrating the increasing diversity of ministry that the ordination of women has enabled.”

The Revd Canon Dr Sue Penfold says:
“Being ordained priest in 1994 was an enormously joyful occasion. My strongest memory is that the atmosphere as we entered the cathedral that day felt full of glory. In the months that followed I discovered that being a priest changed ministry in ways I hadn’t expected, as though up to then I’d had one arm tied behind my back, but now could move more easily.

“It’s strange looking back 30 years – we’re much less likely to be treated as a novelty now. So much has changed, not just for those of us ordained but also for other women watching us and being encouraged to use their gifts in different ways.

“I hope the service will celebrate the many and varied ways that women serve God and others in the church and the world.”

2024 also marks several other anniversaries, including the 10th anniversary of the decision to ordain women as bishops; the 80th anniversary of Florence Li Tim Oi, the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion; and 35 years since Barbara Harris became the first woman consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

For more information on ‘A Celebration of 30 years of Women Priests’ – and to book your place – please visit https://bradfordcathedral.churchsuite.com/events/kw1tggkk.

If you have any memories of the ordinations back in 1994 that you’d like to share, please contact events@bradfordcathedral.org

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