International Women's Day celebrated at Norwich Cathedral
8 March 2023
Women clergy from across the Diocese gathered at Norwich Cathedral to celebrate together on the eve of International Women's Day.
The Dean The Very Revd Dr Andrew Braddock welcomed everyone:
“On this the Eve of International Women’s Day, we come in thanksgiving to God in this place tonight for the gift of ministry of women in God’s Church; we do so particularly through the gifts of music composed by women composers, and through the voices of our girl choristers.
“We give thanks also for the witness in life and in death of Perpetua, Felicity and their companions who were martyred for their faith on this day in the year 203. In scripture this evening, we celebrate Ruth, the Moabite, a woman of great bravery and loyalty; and we hear too of Mary Magdalene, the woman whom our Saviour entrusted to tell of his resurrection to his other friends and disciples, and we celebrate the ministry of all women who minister in this diocese.”
The Norwich Girls Cathedral choir, were joined by the Cathedral choir scholars and all the music was by women composers: Sarah MacDonald, Bernadette Farrell, Joanna Forbes L’Estrange, and Kerensa Briggs.
The Cantor for Evensong was the Archdeacon of Lynn, the Venerable Catherin Dobson. The lessons were read by Lay Canon Liz Wiggins and HM Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, The Lady Dannatt. During the final hymn, all moved in procession to the image of The Lady Julian at the Great West Door of the Cathedral, where The Rt Revd Dr Jane Steen, Bishop of Lynn, gave the blessing.
The Diocese of Norwich currently has 92 licensed women clergy and a further 82 retired women clergy with Permission To Officiate, also supporting many parishes. A supper at Granary Court, hosted by Bishop Graham followed-on from the Evensong celebration.
Bishop Jane said: “I think we should celebrate women in ministry for three reasons. Firstly, because the first apostles to the apostles who told them Jesus had risen, was a woman, and if that’s not archetypical of ministry I don’t know what is! Secondly, there are so many women in ministry now, lay and ordained that it’s kind of normal and I think that’s fantastic! And the third reason, if you think across the Anglican Communion, the influence of women in ministry, whether ordained or in organisations such as Mothers’ Union, that influence is just huge. But it can often get put into the background and I want to say ‘thank you’ to all those women across the globe who exercise Christian ministry for the good of the world.”
Canon Sally Theakston, Bishop’s Chaplain said: “Women have brought so much to the life of the Church and its ministry. In Christ we say there is no male or female, we are all one on Christ. So, if the ministry is entirely those who are men, we are missing something of the fulness of God’s call to take the gospel to everybody. I think women have brought lots of different perspectives, whether they’ve been mothers, sisters, daughters, they have a new insight to bring. I think we represent a fulness, together with our male colleagues, of what ministry might be.”