Almost 400 people packed Ripon Cathedral to mark the Silver Anniversary of the ordination of women as priests in the Church of England.
The special service was presided over by the Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds with the Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon, preaching.
Twenty five years ago, on the eve and morning of Trinity Sunday, 25 women were ordained as priests in Ripon Cathedral. That same year saw Wakefield Cathedral hosting the ordination of 19 women and Bradford a further 12. Some of those women were present at the service, along with many other women who have been ordained in the diocese since.
Bishop Nick commented that the ordination of women represented “a momentous and massive change for the Church of England” in its recent history.
Drawing on her fondness for archaeology and Dr Who, Bishop Helen-Ann spoke of life being about discovery. During her sermon she asked: “What, I wonder have we discovered in the last 25 years of women ordained as priests in the Church of England? And more to the point, does anybody really care? The answer of course, is a hopeful yes, but the reality is possibly less than that.”
“… the story we tell ourselves might not be the story others tell about us; and in any case: what exactly is the story we are seeking to share? Do we have the courage to proclaim it and are we prepared to be transformed by it?
She went on to say: “The ordination of women to the priesthood surely takes us deeper than gender equality into how we model God.
“…what has to be acknowledged is how much we have come to know through the ordination of women and how much the Church would have otherwise missed and of which we would all have been deprived. This may not be a universal cause for celebration…. but it should be acknowledged that we have all been changed by it…”
Click on the following link to read Bishop Helen-Ann’s sermon in full.