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Archbishop of Canterbury to preach at national service to mark 20th anniversary of women priests

A procession from Westminster Abbey and a celebratory service at St Paul's, will mark the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Church of England.

Every woman ordained in 1994 has been invited to take part in the events on Saturday 3 May, and all of England’s 42 dioceses will be represented.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, will preach.

Watch the service live from a big screen outside the Cathedral
Saturday 3 May

Starting at 1pm in the Dean’s Yard of Westminster Abbey, hundreds of women priests and their supporters will gather before being sent off on their procession. Moving through Parliament Square, along the Embankment and up Ludgate Hill towards St Paul’s, the procession will reach the Cathedral for the service which begins at 5pm.

The service will give thanks for the dedication of women ordained into the Church, reflecting on the great work achieved since 1994. There will also be an opportunity to look back and reflect on the difficulties many women faced as the first ordinations approached.

Music will be sung by the girl choristers of Salisbury Cathedral, alongside the St Paul's Cathedral Consort.

And owing to a huge interest in the special celebration, a large screen will be situated outside the Cathedral and will relay the service live.

The Reverend Canon Philippa Boardman, Treasurer of St Paul’s and herself a 1994 ordinand who will preside at the service, said: "Twenty years ago when the huge wooden doors of St Paul’s Cathedral swung open as the procession of the soon-to-be-ordained women came in, it was a time of great hope and also some concern about the impact on the unity of the Church.Twenty years on, many of these hopes have been fulfilled and fears allayed as women and men have worked together as priests, bringing new life to churches and parishes including some of the neediest communities in our country. In the great history of the Church, twenty years is no time at all, and I am conscious that this is just the beginning of so many good things to come.”

The Venerable Dr Jane Hedges, Sub-Dean, Canon Steward and Archdeacon of Westminster and also a 1994 ordinand said: This will be both an exciting and a moving occasion as we meet to celebrate all that has happened in the last 20 years. This may be the first time that so many women priests will have been together in one gathering alongside the many people who have supported us down through the years. I hope the procession and service will also be an inspiration to others, especially younger women, to think about a possible vocation to the priesthood.”

Bishop Donald Arden, an assistant bishop (retired) in London in 1994 sent the message: "I send you and all the people I helped to ordain on those two glorious days 20 years ago, my heartfelt thanks for all that you are and for all you have done as priests for the Kingdom of God. Alleluia! God bless every single one of you. REJOICE AND BE GLAD! ALLELUIA ALLELUIA!"

The procession and service are the national focus of a weekend of celebration around the country, with many dioceses, parishes and churches also marking the anniversary.

All people are welcome to watch the service from the big screen in Paternoster Square.
Unfortunately, owing to the large number of 1994 ordinands attending, there are no general admittance tickets to attend the service inside the Cathedral.