This March marks a significant milestone in the history of the Church of England as it commemorates 30 years since the ordination of the first women as priests. Bradford Cathedral is set to honour this occasion with a special service scheduled for Saturday, 4th May 2024 – nearly three decades since the groundbreaking event took place within its hallowed walls.

The historical ordinations, which transpired on Sunday, 8th May 1994, witnessed the advent of a new era within the cathedral’s sacred precincts. To pay homage to this pivotal moment, a commemorative service will commence at 11 am, dedicated to amplifying women’s voices within the Church. The Reverend Canon Dr Sue Penfold, a participant in those inaugural ordinations and a prominent figure in the Cathedral’s ministry, will lead the proceedings.

Adding to the solemnity of the occasion, the Right Reverend Anna Eltringham, Bishop of Ripon, will deliver a sermon, while the Diocese of Leeds will commission several new ‘Women’s Ministry Advisors.’ All are cordially invited to partake in this momentous service.

Bradford Cathedral is also eager to engage with individuals who bore witness to the historic events of 1994, welcoming them to share their reminiscences of that transformative day.

The Revd Pete Gunstone, Minor Canon for Worship and Nurture, says; “This is an important service that will celebrate the whole ministry of all the women of God, lay and ordained, as well as celebrating the increasing diversity of ministry that the ordination of women has enabled.”

The Revd Canon Dr Sue Penfold says; “Being ordained priest in 1994 was an enormously joyful occasion. My strongest memory is that the atmosphere as we entered the cathedral that day felt full of glory. In the months that followed I discovered that being a priest changed ministry in ways I hadn’t expected, as though up to then I’d had one arm tied behind my back, but now could move more easily.

“It’s strange looking back 30 years – we’re much less likely to be treated as a novelty now. So much has changed, not just for those of us ordained but also for other women watching us and being encouraged to use their gifts in different ways.

“I hope the service will celebrate the many and varied ways that women serve God and others in the church and the world.”

Moreover, 2024 marks the commemoration of several other significant milestones, including the 10th anniversary of the decision to ordain women as bishops, the 80th anniversary of Florence Li Tim Oi’s ordination as the first woman priest in the Anglican Communion, and 35 years since Barbara Harris became the first woman consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

For further details on ‘A Celebration of 30 Years of Women Priests’ and to secure your place, please visit the following link: Bradford Cathedral Events.

To share your memories of the 1994 ordinations, kindly reach out to events@bradfordcathedral.org.