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International Women’s Day celebrated in Norwich

A service for International Women’s day at Norwich Cathedral featured girl choristers, female composers and clergy from across the diocese.


The service featured the voices of the girl choristers and music composed by female composers. The Norwich Girls Cathedral choir, were joined by the Cathedral choir scholars and all the music was by women composers: Sarah MacDonald, Bernadette Farrell, Joanna Forbes L’Estrange, and Kerensa Briggs.

Women martyrs from the year 203 were mentioned – Perpetua, Felicity and their companions. The lives of women from scripture were also celebrated; Ruth, the Moabite, a woman of great bravery and loyalty; also Mary Magdalene, the woman Jesus entrusted to tell of his resurrection to his other friends and disciples. The ministry of all women who minister in the diocese of Norwich were celebrated.

The Cantor for Evensong was the Archdeacon of Lynn, the Venerable Catherin Dobson. The lessons were read by Lay Canon Liz Wiggins and HM Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, The Lady Dannatt. During the final hymn, all moved in procession to the image of The Lady Julian at the Great West Door of the Cathedral, where The Rt Revd Dr Jane Steen, Bishop of Lynn, gave the blessing.

The Diocese of Norwich currently has 92 licensed women clergy and a further 82 retired women clergy with Permission To Officiate, also supporting many parishes. A supper at Granary Court, hosted by Bishop Graham followed-on from the Evensong celebration.

Bishop Jane said: “I think we should celebrate women in ministry for three reasons. Firstly, because the first apostles to the apostles who told them Jesus had risen, was a woman, and if that’s not archetypical of ministry I don’t know what is! Secondly, there are so many women in ministry now, lay and ordained that it’s kind of normal and I think that’s fantastic! And the third reason, if you think across the Anglican Communion, the influence of women in ministry, whether ordained or in organisations such as Mothers’ Union, that influence is just huge. But it can often get put into the background and I want to say ‘thank you’ to all those women across the globe who exercise Christian ministry for the good of the world.”

Canon Sally Theakston, Bishop’s Chaplain said: “Women have brought so much to the life of the Church and its ministry. In Christ we say there is no male or female, we are all one on Christ. So, if the ministry is entirely those who are men, we are missing something of the fulness of God’s call to take the gospel to everybody. I think women have brought lots of different perspectives, whether they’ve been mothers, sisters, daughters, they have a new insight to bring. I think we represent a fulness, together with our male colleagues, of what ministry might be.”

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