In 1994 Easter was on 3rd April, so only those ordained in March were able to celebrate the Easter eucharist. Congratulations to the 57 women ordained in 1994 in time to be able to celebrate the eucharist on Easter Day.
On March 12th 32 women were ordained priest at Bristol Cathedral
On March 15 10 women were ordained priest; March 16, 8 women were ordained priest and on March 17 , 7 women were ordained priest in the diocese of Sheffield.
This year, as many clergy were renewing their ordination vows at Chrism Masses, we send Congratulations to the 143 women ordained in 1994 between Easter and April 17th
On April 7th, the Thursday of Easter week, two women were ordained in the parish of Maybush (Winchester diocese). One of these was the Rev Cathy Milford who was Moderator of MOW, and her ordination was planned in time to celebrate at the great service of thanksgiving planned by MOW and held at Ripon on 9th April.
In the diocese of London, in St Paul’s 36 women were ordained priest on April 16th and 38 were ordained priest on April 17th
In the Diocese of Oxford, on 16th April, 9 women were ordained priest in Abingdon and 12 in High Wycombe; on 17th April, 11 women were ordained priest in Reading, 11 in Banbury and 11 in Buckingham
Each woman and her friends will have their own memories, but these are memories from one of those ordained in the diocese of Oxford (in Reading)
Memories of Ordination to the Priesthood, Diocese of Oxford
Sixty six of us in the Oxford Diocese had spent three days together on retreat and were ordained priest over the weekend of 16th -17th April 19994 in six separate services held across the diocese. I was one of eleven women ordained in St Mary Butts (now the Minster Church) in Reading on the Sunday by the Bishop of Reading, John Bone, a great supporter of women’s ordination. We ranged widely in age and experience. One of our number had been ordained deaconess thirty years before, whereas I had been ordained deacon in 1989, but because we were in alphabetical order I was ordained first.
It was a most wonderful day. Before the service the bells rang out, rung by bell ringers who had gathered to celebrate with us, including those from Caversham and Mapledurham where I had served as Assistant Curate. During the service itself I was able to pass the peace with May, an elderly parishioner who had firmly insisted that she be discharged from hospital in order to attend. At the end of the service as we processed out we found Valerie Bonham waiting at the west door to greet us. Valerie’s opposition to the ordination of women had turned to support, and she was later to be ordained herself.
The culmination of the day was that same evening. I was able to preside at the Eucharist for the first time with the regular congregation and many family members and friends who had travelled to be with me. I had moved to Bracknell Team Ministry at the beginning of 1994. Only now could I be made Team Vicar rather than Team Minister, no longer having to call on a male member of the Team to preside at the church for which I had responsibility. My call had been confirmed by the Church. One of the differences this made to me was that what had been described as “the problem of women” had become the problem of those opposed – their problem, not mine. It was such a great joy and also a privilege to stand at the altar and to say the words of institution. Twenty five years on, that sense of privilege remains, as I continue to exercise an active ministry in retirement.
On 11th November 1992, just after the vote in General Synod was announced, I was interviewed on Radio 4’s PM programme by Valerie Singleton and asked how long it would be until women were able to be bishops. I hopefully suggested that it might take ten years. Sadly it took over twenty, and I had retired and left General Synod before the legislation was finally approved. I think that I realised, even then, that full equality for women in the Church of England, lay and ordained, would take a good deal longer. There is still much to work for until the gifts that God has given to women in the church are everywhere fully recognised and accepted.
The Venerable Christine Allsopp
The Venerable Christine Allsopp is one of the sixty-six women ordained priest in Oxford diocese in 1994, two weeks after Easter. She later moved to Salisbury diocese as a Team Rector and then, in 2005, to the diocese of Peterborough as Archdeacon of Northampton.