Women Vicars Celebrate 25 Years of Ordination

Liverpool Cathedral Lady Chapel Thursday 14th June at 12.05pm

A special service is to take place at Liverpool Cathedral on Thursday 14th June to commemorate 25 years since the first women were ordained Deacons in the Diocese of Liverpool.

Seventeen women were deaconed at Liverpool Cathedral on June 14th 1987 by Bishop David Sheppard and Bishop Michael Henshall. Before this, despite doing the majority of the same training at theological college, women were restricted to the role of Parish Worker, or ‘Deaconess’ which held less responsibility than a Deacon.

Of those women ordained as deacons on that day, many have gone on to high profile positions including Cathedral Canons, Area Deans and even a Chaplain to the Queen.

Liverpool Diocese was in the forefront of the move towards the ordination of women. Nationally the ordination of women as deacons was passed in 1986. High profile supporters of the ordination of women in the Diocese of Liverpool included Bishop David Sheppard, Bishop of Liverpool; Bishop Michael Henshall, Suffragan Bishop of Warrington and Dean Edward Patey, Dean of Liverpool Cathedral. Canon Michael Wolfe and his wife Brenda gave huge encouragement to the women in their journey, and Deaconess Frances Briscoe who was the Diocesan Lay ministry Advisor, was hugely supportive and one of those to be ordained as Deacon in 1987.

Alison Woodhouse was ordained on June 14th 1987, and is currently a chaplain to the Queen. She said, “At the service, I will be giving thanks but I will also be looking forward to the work that still needs to be done regarding the ministry of women in the church. For those women being ordained in 2012, I would say give of your very best. Seize the opportunities and have the courage to step up and just do it. It is not about being like men, but rather using your God given gifts and talents as a woman to help grow the church and to serve your community.”