Diocesan press releases

Stories of uncertainty, inspiration and creativity recounted to celebrate 21 years of women priests

The newly announced Archdeacon of Bangor will be among the story-tellers at an event in St Asaph Cathedral to celebrate 21 years of women priests in the Church in Wales.

The Revd Mary Stallard, who is currently a chaplain at St Joseph’s Anglican and Catholic School in Wrexham will take up the senior post in the Diocese of Bangor in May. She will be one of six women telling their stories of uncertainty, hope, challenge, fun, inspiration and journey on Friday 16 March.

The event, which is free and open to all, is being organised by MAE Cymru, an organisation which supports the well-being and fairness for women in the Church.

Mary was among the first women to be ordained into the Church in Wales in 1997. She and her husband, Andrew Sully, the Vicar of Llangollen were the first stipendiary married clergy couple in Wales. Mary said: “I was ordained in 1993 at a time of great uncertainty for women.  We could be ordained as deacons, but the church did not ordain women as priests and there was no promise that they would. I was ordained as a deacon with my husband Andrew who was then made a priest the following year. We had to wait four years before women could be priests.

“My overwhelming sense through that journey is how God shows a way, perhaps especially in uncertain times.

“Twenty-one years on, I have a big question about how women are making a difference and how far we simply conform to the church that was. I think we owe it to the present and next generations to be more imaginative and encouraging of new ways to be followers of Christ.”

Other speakers include women who are following new paths in ministry. The Revd Gill Stanning took up a role as Pioneer Priest in Borderlands Mission Area in Flintshire last summer.  She was ordained in Chester Cathedral 2010.  Gill said: “Through my work, I’ve had the freedom to develop innovative ideas, create community links with churches and discover opportunities to be at the heart of mission.

“Women’s ministry brings creativity, enthusiasm and an enormous amount of talent that was being wasted before!”

Sian Syme is training as an evangelist with the Church Army. She’s based in Sandycroft on Deeside and said: “My call was like a burning need to share the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ with others who like me for most of my life didn’t even know he existed.  God had given me a job to do and I was more than happy to do it.

“Being connected, inspired and supported by strong Christian women within the Church in Wales continues to be a joy and a privilege to me on my journey and if it hadn’t been for these women who had gone before me, paving the way for women’s ministry then undoubtedly I wouldn’t be in the fortunate position that I am in today.”

Other speakers at the event are:

  • Esther Andrews from Prestatyn who is training as a youth worker and works in schools around Towyn.
  • Lorraine Badger Watts, a priest in the Estuary and Mountain Mission Area near Holywell
  • Dorothi Evans, a priest in the Valle Crucis Mission Area near Corwen.

Music will be provided by Cass Meurig, a Bala based folk artist.

The Evolving Voice of Women’s Ministry takes place at St Asaph Cathedral on Friday 16 March from 7pm – 9pm. The event is free with donations to Haven of Light.  Refreshments will be provided.