Women’s ministry has come a long way in the Church in Wales over the past 20 years, said the Archbishop of Wales at a service celebrating the anniversary of the ordination of the first women priests.
All six of Wales’ cathedrals held services on Saturday, January 7, to mark the 20th anniversary, which came just two weeks ahead of another milestone in women’s ministry in Wales – the consecration of the first woman bishop, Canon Joanna Penberthy, as Bishop of St Davids Diocese, on January 21.
Dr Barry Morgan joined in the celebrations at Llandaff Cathedral which took place at the same time as the services at Brecon, Newport, St Davids, St Asaph and Bangor. Many of those taking part in all the services were among the 61 women ordained on the same day in the cathedrals on January 11 1997. Their names featured in a logo designed for the anniversary.
The Archbishop, who as Bishop of Bangor in 1997 ordained those from that diocese then, said, “This has been a fantastic celebration. It was a great day 20 years ago and it was a great day today. In just two weeks, of course, we will be consecrating the first woman bishop in Wales so the Church has come an enormously long way and I am really, really pleased.”
Dr Morgan, who will retire at the end of January, added, “I never expected to consecrate the first woman bishop so to be able to do that, as well as to attend this service, means I will retire on a high.”
Canon Jenny Wigley, Rector of Radyr, who preached at the service at Llandaff on Saturday, said, “Today has been a joyous day with such a lovely atmosphere. We feel excited about all that has happened in the church over the past 20 years and also really hopeful about the future – it’s a new dawn for us with the consecration of the first woman bishop.
“My challenge today is for all women in the church – not just those who are ordained – to take more responsibility and to feel confident to do new things.”
The idea for a simultaneous celebration was first put forward by the St Deiniol’s Group, an informal group of senior lay and ordained women from across the Church in Wales, whose members in each diocese have been involved in the planning. Peggy Jackson, Archdeacon of Llandaff, who convenes the group, said, “The Church in Wales has every reason to celebrate and be grateful for the ministry of these first women priests. They have brought rich and diverse gifts into the sacramental life of the Church, and have inspired many women since to offer themselves for public ministry. They have enabled the Church to represent, and therefore serve more effectively, the people of every community in Wales.”
Details of the cathedral services which took place on January 7 were as follows:
Llandaff (preacher: Canon Jenny Wigley); Bangor (preacher, Enid Morgan); Newport (Bishop Dominic Walker); St Asaph (the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek); Brecon (preacher, Canon Carol Wardman); St Davids (Canon Joanna Penberthy).
For more information about the history of women’s ministry in Wales, see the Crossing Thresholds book