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Celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the ordination of women

The Bishop’s Chaplain, the Revd Canon Sally Theakston

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On Tuesday 30 April 2024, a special service of Choral Evensong was held at Norwich Cathedral to mark the 30th anniversary of the first ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England. 

At 11am on Saturday 30 April 1994, a service took place in Norwich Cathedral for the ordination of 20 women as priests. It was the first of its kind in the Diocese of Norwich. 

The service on Tuesday saw some of the original 20 women, who were ordained in Norwich on this day 30 years ago, join together once more. The group of women robed together with one of the original 20 reading the first lesson.  

Speaking before the service, the Revd Canon Julie Boyd is the Bishop’s Adviser for Women’s Ministry and Team Rector for the Aylsham and District Team Ministry said: “There is so much to be thankful for. We celebrate how the ministry of those first women ordained in 1994 paved the way for so many others to fully explore their call to ministry.  We celebrate the ministry of all women and men serving God alongside one another in ways that welcome others in, no matter who they are.  We give thanks to God for the hope we have for the church of tomorrow, full of grace and love.” 

The Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Revd Dr Jane Steen said: “It’s a great joy to celebrate thirty years of women’s ordained priestly ministry.  As the whole people of God, lay and ordained, work out our calling, we seek to fulfil the baptismal vocation the Lord has given us, and it is a blessing that the Church offers a variety of ministries in which those callings can be expressed.” 

The Bishop’s Chaplain, the Revd Canon Sally Theakston also took part in the service. Sally was ordained in 1994 and became the first female Anglican chaplain to serve in the Royal Navy. She said: “As we mark the 30th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood I am grateful for the women and men who worked to make this possible.  We owe a debt of gratitude to women who served faithfully as Lay workers, Deaconesses and Deacons and whose priestly calling was never formally recognised.  This service, and others taking place throughout the Church of England, will be occasions of great joy.”