Bristol Cathedral plaque to mark first women priests but only named men to be replaced

Bristol Cathedral is to replace a plaque commemorating the first female priests because the original version only names the men who ordained them.

The cathedral is swapping its 1994 memorial with an updated version – engraved with the names of the first 32 women to be ordained as part of Women’s History Month.

While the current plaque pays tribute to the historic occasion, it only names the bishop, precentor and dean – all of whom were male.

1994 ordination plaque at Bristol Cathedral - Bristol Cathedral/SWNS© Provided by The Telegraph 1994 ordination plaque at Bristol Cathedral – Bristol Cathedral/SWNS

It reads: “In this Cathedral on 12 March 1994 Barry Rogerson, Bishop of Bristol, ordained the first women as priests in the Church of England. John Simpson: Precentor. Wesley Carr: Dean.”

The updated memorial is inscribed with similar wording but is surrounded by the names of each of the 32 women.

The new inscription reads: “To the Glory of God, these 32 women were the first to be ordained as priests in the Church of England by the Bishop of Bristol, Barry Rogerson, in this Cathedral on 12th March 1994.”

Falls during Women’s History Month

The plaque will be unveiled at a Holy Communion service on March 12 by the Rt Rev Vivienne Faull, the Bishop of Bristol.

The date marks not only the 28th anniversary of the ordination service but also aptly falls during Women’s History Month.

Bishop Faull said: “It is wonderful to be gathering for this special occasion with a service of Holy Communion.

“There is a certain irony that it has taken us 28 years to unveil a plaque that mentions the names of those pioneering women ordained in Bristol Cathedral all those years ago.

“But I hope and pray that the progress that this represents will be a mark of wider progress in the standing of women in the Church and indeed our reaching out to all marginalised or under-represented groups.”

The Rev Angela Berners-Wilson was one of the first women to be ordained in 1994.

She added: “I am very much looking forward to being back in Bristol Cathedral in March, 28 years to the day after our ordination as the first group of women to be priested in the Church of England.

“It will be very special to have all our 32 names included on a new plaque to be put up in the cathedral as the original one only included the bishop and dean.”

 Stonemason Robyn Golden-Hann

The new plaque was commissioned by the Cathedral Chapter and is being carved by stonemason Robyn Golden-Hann.

Speaking for the cathedral, the Dean of Bristol, the Very Rev Dr Mandy Ford, said: “It’s interesting that this has become a story.

“We are really only correcting what should have been done in 1994.

“We are honouring the women who were ordained that day by repairing an omission which was made at the time.

“It’s good that we can make this correction – it is a celebration of women’s ministry.”


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