Canon Cynthia Dowdle honoured with OBE

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."