This year sees the 25th anniversary of the momentous vote in favour of women’s ordination to the priesthood and Ripon Cathedral is marking the occasion from the pulpit on July 16th with a sermon delivered by one of its newest members of the team, Canon Ailsa Newby.
It will be the first sermon at the cathedral by the former lawyer, who sought ordination following her work with prisoners for the charity Justice and will have responsibility for leading in the area of the cathedral’s pastoral care.
The tide of change began 50 years ago with the appointment of the first female lay readers then two decades after that came the ordination of women deacons. Ripon Cathedral welcomes its own female deacon this month when Caitlin Carmichael Davis begins her curacy.
Canon Wendy Wilby, who has been serving as an interim Canon Residentiary in Ripon, was amongst the first women priests to be ordained in 1994 – (it took two years for the legislation to work its way through parliament and the church!)
Canon Wendy is also the Chair of the National Association of Diocesan Advisers in Women’s Ministry. She said: “Up and down the country we are hoping that as many women as possible will be preaching in our churches on July 16. We have been privileged to witness a seismic ministerial event of enormous proportions in our generation. We must give thanks to God for all that women are formally bringing to the church.
“We at Ripon Cathedral are rejoicing in the gifts and skills that have been offered by women in ministry over many years. This last 50 years has seen a major transformation within the Church of England. It now provides a wholeness of ministry that represents both the women and men of our congregations and communities.”