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Service marks 25 years of the Ordination of women to the Priesthood in the Diocese of London

On 4th June, men and women, lay and ordained, gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the 25th anniversary of the Ordination of women to the Priesthood in the Diocese of London. The service was an opportunity to celebrate God’s call to vocation and specifically the ministry of women as priests, and to give thanks to all those who, over the years, have challenged the Church towards recognising the priestly vocation of women. Among those at the service were some of the 74 women who had been ordained as priests at St Paul’s in 1994. 

In her welcome, Bishop Sarah also reminded those gathered that despite this progress, ‘there are many who still do not see themselves as represented at Christ’s table. If the Church is to challenge exclusion in wider society and serve its local communities in all their diversity there are other journeys to be made.’

A UNHCR refugee tent had recently been installed in the Cathedral and was on display during the service and offered a source of reflection for Canon Tricia Hillas, Canon Pastor of St Paul’s, who gave the sermon:   

‘For ideas of ‘home’, shelter’ and ‘companionship’ are at the heart of my understanding of the Christian faith, speaking of our human longing for the home and shelter we find within the generous heart of God.’

Canon Tricia reflected that ‘our presence here today points to the prodigality of that Kingdom – the absurd, excessive hospitality which God extends and the lavishness with which God’s gifts are bestowed. The abundant diversity of the people made in God’s image…’

Throughout the service, stories of ministry were given by female priests from the Diocese. The Revd Fung Lau, Assistant Curate at St James the Less, Pimlico, described a highlight of her ministry: being able to lead a funeral service of a Chinese lady in both English and Mandarin, and support a grieving family in their own language. 

The Revd Dr Margaret Joachim, Assistant Curate at St Peter’s, Ealing, as a self-supporting minister and someone in an ‘ordinary full-time job’, described her ministry as ‘God in the Mass on Sunday; God in the mess on Monday’.

You can read more of these stories of ministry here, and the Canon Tricia’s full sermon here.