A special service is being held at at Norwich Cathedral today to mark 30 years since the first ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England

Today's service at 5.30pm will see a handful of the original 20 women, who were ordained in Norwich exactly three decades ago, join together once more.

The Rev Canon Julie Boyd, the Bishop’s adviser for women’s ministry and team rector for the Aylsham and District Team Ministry, said: "There is so much to be thankful for. We celebrate how the ministry of those first women ordained in 1994 paved the way for so many others to fully explore their call to ministry. 

"We celebrate the ministry of all women and men serving God alongside one another in ways that welcome others in, no matter who they are. 

"We give thanks to God for the hope we have for the church of tomorrow, full of grace and love."

Eastern Daily Press: Celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women priests in 2014

The first female Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Rev Dr Jane Steen joined the Diocese of Norwich in 2021, and said: “It’s a great joy to celebrate 30 years of women’s ordained priestly ministry. 

"As the whole people of God, lay and ordained, work out our calling, we seek to fulfil the baptismal vocation the Lord has given us, and it is a blessing that the Church offers a variety of ministries in which those callings can be expressed.”

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher added: "It will be an utter joy to mark the 30th anniversary of women being ordained priest in the Church of England.

"We will be joined in the cathedral and online by some of the 20 women who were ordained on that day exactly thirty years ago. Each has given much to our life together in this diocese.

"One of their contemporaries ordained in another diocese was Canon Sally Theakston and I benefit hugely, in her role as my chaplain, from her wisdom and pastoral care. I thank God for those pioneer women and all who serve God’s church in ministry today.”

Eastern Daily Press:

The Bishop’s chaplain, the Rev Canon Sally Theakston, will be taking part in the service.

She was ordained in 1994 and became the first female Anglican chaplain to serve in the Royal Navy.

Mrs Theakston joined the Diocese of Norwich in 2002 and said: “As we mark the 30th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood I am grateful for the women and men who worked to make this possible. 

"We owe a debt of gratitude to women who served faithfully as Lay workers, Deaconesses and Deacons and whose priestly calling was never formally recognised.  This service, and others taking place throughout the Church of England, will be occasions of great joy.”

Eastern Daily Press: The Rev Sally Theakston

The first female Archdeacon of Lynn, the Venerable Catherine Dobson was appointed in 2022, and added: "As we celebrate this anniversary, we give thanks to God for the ministry of all clergy, and especially for those who have campaigned over the last 30 years, as we seek to reflect more closely the kingdom of heaven on earth. 

"When I hear the stories of those who were at the forefront of making this change a reality 30 years ago, I am deeply humbled by their determination and fortitude and I am thankful that they have made my ministry and the ministry of all female clergy possible today.”

Everyone is welcome to attend today's service.

Eastern Daily Press: The Rev Julie Boyd

Eastern Daily Press: The Rev Canon Catherine Dobson