Celebrating 30 Years of Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

The first group of women ordained as priests in St Paul’s Cathedral Cathedral on December 13 1992. Among them are Bishop Kate Prowd (front row, far right), and the late Bishop Barbara Darling, the first Female Bishop in the Province of Victoria (front row, far left).

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the ordination of the first women priests in the Anglican Church of Australia after a long and, at times, bitter struggle.

The first ordinations in 1992 came after years of debate with the General Synod only narrowly voting to allow individual dioceses to decide on the ordination of women, despite strong support from 19 of the 24 diocesan synods.

It was then with a great sense of historical significance that the first ordinations of women as Priests were held in Melbourne on the 13th of December 1992, with three groups of women ordained over three services in December as so many had been waiting. By the end of 1992, Australia had 92 women priests.

The Reverend Elizabeth Alfred, who had been a deaconess since 1944 and a deacon since 1986, was the first of 33 women priested in Melbourne, then aged 78. The Right Revd Kate Prowd, now Assistant Bishop in the Diocese, was also among those priested at the service, along with the late Bishop Barbara Darling, who became the first female Bishop in the Province of Victoria.

Melbourne was not the first Diocese to ordain women as priests. The first women priested in Australia were ordained on 7 March 1992 in the Diocese of Perth. Among them was, Kay Goldsworthy, who studied and was made a deacon in Melbourne in 1986 and is now Archbishop of Perth – the most senior female in the Anglican Church of Australia.

We give thanks for the ministry of ordained women through the last thirty years and remember the determination of those – women and men, lay and ordained – who campaigned so hard to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood.

A Celebration Eucharist • Tuesday 13 December, 6pm

To mark this significant milestone, all are welcome to a special service on Tuesday 13th December at 6pm. All clergy, female and male, are invited to robe.

The service will be led by Bishop Kate Prowd and we’re delighted that Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy AO will be present to preach at the service.

Re-watch the service here