People from around the diocese gathered in Lincoln Cathedral on Saturday (18th May 2019) to mark 50 years since the first women were licensed as lay readers and 25 years since women were first ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England.

The service was led by the Revd Michelle Godbold, diocesan Adviser in Women’s Ministry, and the preacher was the Ven. Dr Justine Allain Chapman, the Archdeacon of Boston (the sermon text is available here).

Michelle offered the following introduction in the order of service, and an initial gallery of photographs taken at the service is published below.

We chose to hold the celebration at this time because this week is particularly special for the Diocese of Lincoln. On 22nd May 2019 it will be 25 years since the first women were ordained priest in Lincoln Cathedral.

We gather today to celebrate these anniversaries and to give thanks for the pioneers of women’s ministry. We celebrate the tireless work of all those who have brought about the changes required to allow women to be licensed and ordained. We also recognise with gratitude the support given by those who have championed the ministry of women, which has changed the face of the church in the 21st century.

Ministry in the Church of England in 2019 is quite different from how it was 50 years ago. Today there are almost equal numbers of male and female readers and an ever increasing number of women being ordained to the priesthood, as well as being appointed to senior positions. A further three appointments of women to the episcopate have recently been announced, which will soon bring the number of women bishops to 22.

The road to where we are today has not always been easy. We acknowledge that some hurts are still keenly felt, that for some healing is still needed and that there is still work to be done. However, today is a celebration in which we can rejoice that, because of that journey, all orders of ministry are open to all and we are able to minister side by side, women and men, ordained and lay, for the furthering of God’s kingdom in this place.