Bishops’ Adviser for Church and Society Canon Carol Wardman was the preacher at today’s service at Brecon Cathedral celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women priests.
Services took place at all six of Wales’ cathedrals to mark the occasion, and the anniversary comes just 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.
Canon Carol said: “It is a great honour and a great joy to be invited to preach here today for a whole host of reasons, and many of those reasons remind me what a privilege it is to be here as an ordained priest in God’s church, of any gender, of any province in the Anglican communion or of any country in the world.
“I am part of that blessed generation which has seen women in the Church of England and the Church in Wales move officially into every area of ministry from Church Army sisters and deaconesses, lay readers and, of course, parish workers of all kinds, to become deacons, and then priests and now even bishops.”
Canon Carol said the fact the anniversary coincided with the feast of the Epiphany was particularly appropriate.
“The Epiphany is the demonstration or manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles, in other words to the whole world. And that was an idea at least as revolutionary as the ordination of women to the priesthood has been.
“There is more to the ordination of women as priests – and now also to the consecration of women as bishops – even than simple justice and the recognition of human rights, important though they are in this world made by God, and all humanity in God’s image.
“In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for in Christ every barrier has been broken down, and nothing in all creation, not race, or nationality or culture or tradition or suffering or privilege can separate us from the love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ.
“Since that is so, our Christian – our Christ-like – ministry must also reflect that fullness of God which is not confined to either male or female.
“If we restrict the sacramental ministry to male or female we risk presenting an impression of God which is partial and limited, and fails to reflect the fullness of God which Jesus and our scriptures go to such trouble to reveal.
“The fullness of God can only be reflected when the whole of our human race, in all its glorious and God-given diversity, can be recognised as ministers of God’s love in every aspect; pastoral practical, theological, liturgical, sacramental.”