Canon Cynthia Dowdle, Dean of Women's Ministry and Canon Chancellor speaks to us after being awarded OBE for services to Gender Equality and Social Inclusion.
Firstly, we asked Canon Cynthia how she felt to receive this award and what it means to her.
"When I first read the letter I couldn't believe it was meant for me it must be a mistake. Being a bit of a rebel in my younger day I saw honours like this for important people who did amazing things. Having had time for it to sink in and to reflect on my ministry I can accept the honour with grace not only for me but also for all those I have worked with and continue working with both women and men who believe that the Church of England is in a better place now women priests are seen by most as the norm. Receiving the honour affirms this to me and I hope others will be affirmed by it as well."
Part of the reason for the award was for Canon Cynthia's work on campaigning for women’s ministry. We asked what drove her to be so active?
"I said I have been a bit of a rebel and I think that was the start of my belief that women should be seen as equal to men. I recognised that the Bible tells us that we are all equal in Christ but when I felt called to service in the church though things were far from being equal. Synod said there was no theological reason why women could not be priests but still women could not have their call recognised. It was 1994 before we were able to be ordained as priests. The rest is history or so we thought but we were wrong. We still were not equal.
Now that we are starting to get women bishops, Canon Cynthia explains how this makes her feel and her hopes for the future.
"When I became Dean of Women's ministry in 2001 I was quickly invited to chair the National Committee NADAWM. This involved endless meetings with Ministry Division of the House of Bishops to try and get the Women's Bishops legislation through. It is amazing to see how quickly the first women bishops are being appointed. Yes to be in York to see Bishop Libby ordained was wonderful but what has been even more amazing is the way in which the announcment of the 4th women Bishop seems normal. I pray that one day women Bishops will have their ministry accepted by the whole church so that the leadership of the church will reflect the true nature and glory of God."
The other part was for social justice – a large part of it down to the work with the Foodbank. We found out how important that work has been over the last few years.
"The work we have been involved in at the cathedral in providing food for those in need has shown that working ecumenically with the Metropolitan cathedral and in partnership with each other does work. Little did we know when we started the work just how much need there was. In just over two years we have fed 17,000 people many but by no means all are assylum seekers who come to the foodbank afraid with few belongings or money. The first thing we do is welcome them the volunteers treat each person with respect no matter what their faith or background is. With the continuing numbers of people coming into Europe from Africa and the Middle East we will still need to provide food and a welcome.
We have recently moved into our new food store giving us more space and also aquired a van to aid our work. I believe the work will continue for some time to come we wish we could see an end to it all but the signs are not there. Without the work of our wonderful volunteers and foodbank coordinator Nadine Daniel many people arriving in Liverpool with no belongings would not be given the opportunity of knowing something about the love of God at work in their lives."
So what's next for Canon Cynthia?
"I am due to retire this year. I have had 25 wonderful years of ordained ministry in Liverpool Diocese. I am looking forward to continuing my ministry in some way but need to discern what God would have me do."