Bristol Cathedral replaces male-only plaque in remembrance of first female priests | Anglicanism

A plaque marking the first ordained female priests in the Church of England is replaced this week as it only mentioned male clergy who performed the ceremony.

Bristol Cathedral became the first Anglican church to ordain women priests on March 12, 1994 during a service for 32 women deacons.

But when it came to commemorating the historic move, none of the women involved were featured on a plaque in the cathedral, even though they had helped pay for it to be carried out.

Instead, a mark of the controversy over the issue as well as the power of the patriarchy at the time, only the men who ran the service were featured on the plaque. They were then the Bishop of Bristol, Barry Rogerson, and the dean of the cathedral, Wesley Carr.

But next Saturday, after a long campaign by some of the women priests involved, a new plaque will be unveiled by the current Bishop of Bristol, Vivienne Faull. The new Welsh slate plaque was carved with the names of the 32 women ordained during the 1994 service.

One, Angela Berners-Wilson, said: ‘We were all asked to contribute to the original plaque and I think it was £15 each, which I gladly did. But when we looked at it, it only had the names of the bishop and the dean on it. We are finally rectifying that 28 years later.

Berners-Wilson, who is currently rector of Quantock Towers Benefice in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, described the former men-only plaque as ‘very Church of England’.

She added, “It’s good that it’s finally being rectified, so all of our names will appear on the new plaque and there’s a special service with a female bishop, which is wonderful. I can’t wait to see some of my old friends again.

Faull said: “There is a certain irony that it took us 28 years to unveil a plaque which mentions the names of those pioneer women who were ordained in Bristol Cathedral all those years ago.

“But I hope and pray that the progress this represents will be a mark of broader progress in the position of women in the church and, indeed, of our openness to all marginalized or underrepresented groups. “.

The new plaque was made by stone carver Robyn Golden-Hann, 55, who is in her final year of training to become a deacon in the Church of England.

She said: “I feel very honored to have done this. This will be one of my very last commissions as a professional stonemason, so it is very moving that this is the work that marks my transition from one calling to another.

When asked why the original plaque only had male names, she replied, “The only explanation I’ve heard is that it was probably done in a hurry. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just part of the patriarchal mentality of the time.

“The world has changed a lot in these 28 years. I can no longer imagine the Church of England without female priests.

A notice by Bristol Cathedral explained why the plaque was needed. It read: “The reason the original plaque is superseded is that it did not mention any of the ordained women. Instead, he mentioned the men who ordered them. The new plaque bears the names of all those ordained to it.

About admin

Check Also

Changes to sounding and locations for Warnock, Walker runoff

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Chatham County Board of Elections has announced changes and updated …