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Bradford Cathedral marks 30th anniversary of the ordination of women

First published on: 26th April 2024

Bradford Cathedral will be marking the 30th anniversary of the ordination of women at a special service on Saturday, May 4.

This service will take place almost thirty years to the day from when the first women were ordained at Bradford Cathedral, when on Sunday, May 8, 1994, there were two sets of ordinations.

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.

Bishop Anna said: “The Church of England began to ordain women as priests in 1994 for the first time.  

“On this 30 year anniversary, I give thanks for the courage of those on General Synod who voted to make it happen a couple of years earlier and represented, at the time, a male-led church.  

“And now I celebrate with the women who since then have said yes to God’s call to ordained ministry bringing greater variety of gifts into the ministry of the church and its mission.  

“It has taken time for the culture of the organisation to really begin to change.  

“But today I believe we are truly seeing the fruits of this momentous decision, not just for women but for the whole church.”

“The service on Saturday, May 4 joyfully marks the Cathedral’s own 30 year anniversary since the first service when women were able to be ordained priest.  

“Many young girls now remark when seeing a male priest ‘I never knew men could also be vicars!’  

“Men and women, girls and boys are all warmly invited to attend to celebrate this occasion, give thanks and be inspired.”

The Revd Canon Dr Sue Penfold said: “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.”

The Revd Pete Gunstone, Minor Canon for Worship and Nurture, said: “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.”

To find out more about the service and to sign up, please click here.

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