St Alban’s pilgrimage, this Saturday

The Presiding Bishop of the episcopal church, Katharine Jefferts Schori is in the UK this month, and will be preaching and presiding at the St Alban Pilgrimage celebration on Saturday 21st June. She has kindly agreed to meet with a group, under the auspices of WATCH, to speak about her ministry and her experiences of being a woman in the episcopate. There are just a handful of spaces available if any member of WATCH from outside the Diocese would like to take up the opportunity of meeting the Presiding Bishop at St Albans Abbey at 2.30 that afternoon. St Albans is a very easy commute from London, the M25 and M1. Please contact Lucy Davis [email protected] if you would like to join us.

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP: What needs to change?

WATCH is very proud to be part of this event taking place on Wednesday 16th July 2014. All the information is detailed below and we look forward to seeing you there!


WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP: What needs to change?
7pm, Wed 16th July 2014
St Paul’s Cathedral

Creating greater opportunities for female empowerment has been designated as one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.  As we inch closer to the 2015 deadline there remain considerable institutional and cultural barriers preventing women from reaching positions of leadership, whether in politics, in business, or in the church. It is clear that the tide is turning and large strides are being made to overcome problems of institutional inequality; many voices have joined together to call for our leaders to represent the diversity of the people they govern, but there is still work to be done to remove impediments that have restricted female advancement.

How can we remove the institutional and cultural barriers preventing many women from reaching positions of leadership? What can different sectors learn from one another in the fight for true equality? What actions can we take to create lasting change?

Join us at St Paul’s Cathedral for a public discussion led by:

Liz Bingham, Managing Partner for Talent at EY
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty
Ceri Goddard, Director of Gender at the Young Foundation
The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress

Chaired by:The Very Revd David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral

The event will include an audience Q&A and will be followed by a networking space co-hosted by Women 1st, the Women’s Resource CentreCity Women Network (CWN)Women and the Church (WATCH) and the National Union of Students.

Tickets are free and all are welcome.  Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

To register for tickets please visit:

Annual Alban Pilgrimage Saturday 21st June

The annual Alban Pilgrimage is to be held this year on Saturday 21st June. The preacher and concelebrant at the Eucharist this year will be The Most Revd Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori. The pilgrimage, which regularly attracts around 3,000 pilgrims both national and international as well as over 100 concelebrating priests and bishops, begins with a procession from St Peter’s Church at 11am. Further details of the day can be found here.

20th anniversary celebrations – news from Birmingham

Next Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 May we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first ordinations of women as priests in Birmingham. All the services at the Cathedral on those days will be led by women:

Tuesday 20 May

8am Morning Prayer and Holy Communion Faith Claringbull

5.45pm Choral Evensong Priscilla White

Wednesday 21 May

8am Morning Prayer and Holy Communion Alison Joyce

1.10pm Holy Communion (BCP) Eve Pitts

5.45pm Choral Evensong Susannah Izzard

What a day, what a celebration!

The National Celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of women’s ordination to the priesthood was a day filled with laughter, friendship, solidarity and warmth. Literally warmth as the sun was shining gloriously. It was a day for prayer, for reflection and for song. It was a day for the “women of ‘94”, the first to be ordained, it was a day for those who supported them and those who followed and it was a day for those whose church has changed so much for the better because of those ordinations.

The day began with a picnic lunch in Dean’s Yard at Westminster Abbey. There was a sea of happy faces, many old friendships rekindled and new ones formed. There was food, there were a few bottles of champagne, well, it was a celebration after all! There were some wonderful speeches including one by Canon Jane Hedges who included a reference from the message of congratulations from ++Desmond Tutu and we all echoed his resounding “yippee!” We also all shouted three cheers to the General Synod of 1992 which voted to enable women to be ordained.

Then we began the procession from the Abbey to St Pauls. The route took us through Parliament Square and up alongside the Thames. The numbers of us on the walk did make it feel like the procession spanned miles. Certainly from my viewpoint , about halfway down the procession, by Embankment Station, I couldn’t see where we began or ended. The sun was shining brightly and we had so many shouts of support from passing traffic and people watching us.

On arrival at St Pauls there was a band playing and the “women of 94” amassed on the steps of St Pauls. It was simply a breathtaking sight and the atmosphere there was one of huge joy. People who had tickets for the service gradually made their way in to the Cathedral and others made their way to Paternoster Square where a special screen had been erected to relay the service.

One of the most moving moments of the day came when the first women to be ordained were to process up the aisle. There were many hundreds and the procession took some time. But from the moment they began processing up, the congregation stood and gave them a standing ovation until the last had taken their seats. It was hugely powerful especially as some of the women are now quite frail.

The service was presided over by Canon Philippa Boardman with Archbishop Justin Welby as her deacon. The hymns were rousing, the testimonies given by June Osborne and Kate Boardman were powerful and inspiring and the address by ABC Justin encompassed the feelings of many.

All in all it was a day to truly celebrate and it gave so much hope for the future of the Church, especially this year when we hope even more progress might be made.


Yes! Alleluia!

On Saturday 3rd May 2014 the Church at last said ‘Yes!’ to women. Yes, we are glad that you are here; yes, we are thankful for your witness and care as priests; yes, we rejoice at your calling. Thank God.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke so clearly about the Church’s celebration, about this being about more than clergy, and about there being much more to do. The Church is changing. WATCH is ready, as ever, to join in the Spirit’s dance of transformation. You are all invited. Alleluia is our song.

To read Archbishop Justin’s sermon in full, please click here

“God be praised for all of you. Thank you for all that you are bringing to enrich our fellowship” – Archbishop Tutu

3rd May 2014


My dear Sisters,


I congratulate the Church of England and you yourselves my dear Sisters on this 20th anniversary of the Church of England’s splendid decision to ordain women to the priesthood.


As with our own Anglican Church of Southern Africa, amazing enrichment has come to your Church from this, yes, epoch making decision. We realised how much we had denied ourselves until 1992. Now we have the first two Anglican women bishops on the African continent and we are asking ourselves why we were so stupid for so long.


In your own Church, women have already demonstrated your splendid giftedness; I know without looking it all up on Google that women are the Deans of at least three Cathedrals: Salisbury,York and Norwich. Isn’t that just something?  And there is a noteworthy clutch of women canons and isn’t the Archbishop of Canterbury’s chaplain a woman?


Yippee to you all. I hope I can join in the consecration of the first C of E woman bishop!


God be praised for all of you. Thank you for all that you are bringing to enrich our fellowship.


Much love and blessings,




Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu


Tomorrow! – National celebration of women’s ordination to the priesthood

The following is a message from Bishop Donald Arden to the women priested in 1994 and all who followed.
Bishop Arden, now 98 years old. He was one of the bishops who always supported women’s ordination and was a great and wonderful inspiration to so many. He is not able to attend the national service at St Paul’s on Saturday so he sends the following greeting to everyone attending. We thank him and his wife Jane. We will think of him and all he has contributed throughout his ministry to the flourishing of God’s Love and Word in our lives.
“I send you and all the people I helped to ordain on those two glorious days 20 years ago, my heartfelt thanks for all that you are and for all you have done as priests for the Kingdom of God. Alleluia!
God bless every single one of you.
+ Donald
For those not able to attend the service and march tomorrow, we hope to be tweeting and will be using the hashtags #womenpriests20 and #20yearsofwomenpriests. We will also being posting photographs of the day on our website as soon as possible after Saturday.

Ordinations at St Paul’s 20 years ago

As we look forward to this week’s national celebrations at St Paul’s Cathedral, WATCH is delighted to be able to post some photographs from St Paul’s 20 years ago and the women who were ordained then.

WATCH would also like to remind supporters of the national celebration of the 20th anniversary of women’s priesthood taking place this Saturday 3rd May.

2pm Procession from Westminster Abbey to St Paul’s Cathedral – all welcome.
5pm Service of celebration at St Paul’s Cathedral. Seating in St Paul’s is by invitation only, distributed by Dioceses. There will be audio feed and communion brought to Paternoster Square, outside the Cathedral.

Let’s make it a great day!

St Paul’s are keen to have an idea of numbers likely to join the procession, so please let WATCH know if you are thinking of coming, by sending an email to [email protected]


WATCH meets Bishop Kay

A number of WATCH members met Bishop Kay Goldsworthy at Westminster Abbey on Sunday. Bishop Kay preached at the evensong service and then we were invited to a reception afterwards in the blazing sunshine and grandeur of the Abbey gardens. It was wonderful and inspiring to everyone there to see a woman truly being able to fulfill the ministry God has called her to. Also at the reception were a number of students visiting the UK from the Tara Anglican School for Girls in Sydney. They sang a blessing to us and it was incredibly beautiful and moving.

Thank you to Canon Jane Hedges and all those at the Abbey for their hospitality and we wish Bishop Kay all the very best for the rest of her stay here.