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National Association of Diocesan Advisers in Women’s Ministry

Speeches from NADAWM Officers on May 3rd 2014

May 3rd 2014 – delivered in Dean’s Yard prior to the walk to St Paul’s Cathedral by Faith Claringbull, Vice-Chair, Southern Province

It’s good to be here! Many of us have been here before. Some have participated in General Synod debates over the decades. Many have watched from the gallery – waiting, hoping, praying; disappointed, impatient, sometimes angry.

Above all I have vivid memories of being here on the 11th of November 1992. Maybe you were here too when Dean’s Yard, where we are now standing, exploded with joy. Some of us had kept vigil around a fire outside Lambeth Palace the evening before. In the morning a strong wind came off the river as I emerged from Morning Prayer on the Isle of Dogs.

It felt like God’s Spirit was alive and active. Too late to get a place in the gallery I borrowed a friend’s office in Church House and listened to the debate on the radio with Sally Thompson, Bishop Jim’s wife. When the time came for the announcement we held hands nervously. The vote was on a knife edge.

It was a ‘yes’ and as people poured out into Dean’s Yard, a photographer caught me on camera embracing Nerissa Jones – and we were on the front page of the Guardian the following day! A group of us headed off down Victoria Street, greeted by well-wishers along the way, and at an Italian restaurant the Roman Catholic waiter, on hearing our news, offered us wine on the house.

As we set off in procession in a few minutes I would like  us to remember the women and men who have walked with us over the years – those who have believed in us, encouraged us, recognised our vocation, even when it was unpopular and risky to do so. It has been a long journey – so long that some whom we will remember have gone to glory! May I suggest that we name them as we walk – those well-known public figures as well as those special people we each know from our ministries.

Let’s tell our stories and give thanks to God!

May 3rd 2014 – delivered in Dean’s Yard prior to the walk to St Paul’s Cathedral by Libby Lane, Vice-Chair, Northern Province

Permit me to begin the sharing of our stories with an introduction to my own. In it I hope you will hear echoes of yours, and of those whose struggles and triumphs you honour today.

This stole I shall be wearing for the service in St Paul’s looks simple (plain even) but it is precious beyond price. It was bought by my husband as an act of prophetic faith. It is one of a matching pair, purchased on the
morning of November 11 1992, while we were still training at Cranmer Hall. These two stoles affirmed my priestly ministry as well as his. They proclaimed the equal calling of women and men to the priesthood, in a church that until then had only recognised that vocation in men. They embodied God’s promise, looking forward to a time when equality in the exercise of ministry by women AND men would be the norm.
I have worn this simple stole, with hope and joy, for 20 years.

Over those 20 years I have been blessed on my journey, at every stage, with the company not only my husband, but with countless men and women of faith, within, and beyond the Church of England. With these fellow travellers my priestly calling has been shared and affirmed, has been challenged and enriched. With them I have weathered storms, faced disappointments, confronted pain and been strengthened in faith.

My journey has taken me to three dioceses in the province of York, through parochial ministry, chaplaincy in school and hospital, sector ministry, vocations, parental leave and self-supporting ministry. I have job-shared, worked part-time and full-time, worked with a full stipend, part stipend; no stipend. Mostly, I’ve rejoiced in it, occasionally I have despaired of it, but in all of it Christ has been present, and his church served.

In 20 years since our ordination, I, with you, and thousands of other women, have exercised priestly ministry, alongside our male colleagues, in every part of our church’s life, and beyond.

In us God’s promise is being fulfilled.

May 3rd 2014 – delivered in Dean’s Yard prior to the walk to St Paul’s Cathedral by Rosemary Lain-Priestley, Chair of NADAWM

So in a few minutes we’re going to leave this place of synods, measures and final votes: a place that holds potent memories of hope and disappointment, sadness and surprise. We’re going to walk with some and carry others in our hearts who have held courageously to a vision of women and men together reflecting the fullness of God’s glory.

Today is not just about women, it’s about the wholeness of our humanity, male and female. And it’s not just about women priests: it’s about the immeasurable gifts and contributions of all women, lay and ordained, within and beyond the church.

Of course until each order of ministry is open to everyone the church will still trace a question mark over the value of being female. So with quiet hope we look to the vote in July, longing for a rainbow spectrum of leadership in which everyone can recognise something of themselves. If I were not working to make that happen I couldn’t stay in the institution and look my own daughters in the eye.

It’s because we wrestle down our fears of being different and when we find the courage to be all that God has uniquely created us to be, that we can tell the world the Gospel in all its fullness. The story of a God beyond gender, who speaks the language of extravagant love, touches lives with a healing intimacy and transforms the world by a passionate outpouring of indiscriminate grace.

I want to leave you with the words of Archbishop Tutu, sent to us on this day. ‘You have already demonstrated your splendid giftedness. Yippee to you all!’