Today, 14 December 2019 a service of celebration will take place at St Ninian’s Cathedral, Perth to mark 25 years since the first women were ordained to the priesthood in the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC).
After many years of debate, the SEC agreed at the meeting of its General Synod in 1994 to recognise the vocation of women to the priesthood. The first ordinations took place on 17 December 1994 when 42 women were ordained in Cathedrals across the country.
The service of celebration, organised at the request of the College of Bishops of the SEC, will be attended by people from across Scotland, including 12 of the women who were ordained in 1994 and relatives of those who have since died. The Rev Canon Dr Carrie Applegath, one of the organisers of the event said, “This anniversary marks a significant moment in the life of the Scottish Episcopal Church. It is exciting to celebrate the first 25 years of women’s ordination to the priesthood, and to acknowledge that we are still on the journey towards equality and inclusion, not just for women in the church but for women everywhere.”
To mark the anniversary, a short booklet of reflections by those ordained 25 years ago is being compiled. In the booklet, the Rev Jeanette Allan, one of the women ordained on that day writes, “That we were all ordained across Scotland at the same time was very important. It was a sea change and we were all part of it; no one of us was “the first” – we were all the first together.”
The Rev Elizabeth Jones, another of the women ordained on the day, writes, “Maybe as we move forward as humans made in the image of God, we can find a way to value all who serve as priests with equality. Yes, doors have opened, yes women have used the open doors in invitation to others: now maybe some doors need to be opened wider.”
The Rt Rev Anne Dyer, Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney and the first woman to be consecrated as a Bishop of the SEC will preside at the service which will be a Eucharist. The sermon will be given by the Rev Canon Dr Anne Tomlinson, Principal of the Scottish Episcopal Institute (the Church’s agency for the training and formation of those entering authorised ministry).
Bishop Anne, looking forward to the service, commented, “In the last twenty-five years women ordained as priests have offered faithful and creative ministry across the Province. It will be wonderful to celebrate this together. These ordinations have been a significant step forward as we together seek to make the church more welcoming and inclusive.”
A selection of photographs from the event are available on our Facebook page: