On the 30th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Anglican Church in Canada, November 30, across the country clergy and laity remembered and held services.
Several Vancouver priests from the Diocese of New Westminster journeyed to Sorrento Centre for one celebration. Others gathered at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, to recall the events that took place in 1976 in that same church (see picture below).
The celebration at the Cathedral featured laity and clergy who helped bring about the momentous event, and others who have been ordained since. Frances Somerville and Marjorie Powles (who read the lesson), staunch supporters of the ordination of women in the years leading up to the 1976 ordinations, and many others gathered for the Eucharist presided over by the Rev. Linda St. Clair, with the prayers offered by the Revs. Kathleen and Ed Schmitt and the sermon given by the Rev. Margaret Marquardt.
"Nothing that is worthwhile comes to birth without struggle and the ordination of women was no exception," said Marquardt. "We who have been given the gift of place and space are called to continue to be a sign of God's fullness and abundance in welcoming others who need a place," she said.
Archbishop David Somerville, who performed the ordinations, was present, as was the Rev. Michael Deck, the 'token male' who, with his wife Jane, was in Vancouver from Toronto and joined in the celebration. He is now an assistant at Grace Church on the Hill, Toronto.
Deck is included in the well-known photograph that appeared in the Vancouver Province, with the Rev. Virginia Briant at one side, Bishop David Somerville and the Rev. Elspeth Alley on the other.
Briant has retired to Penticton, and was unable to come, but did send a rembrance to TOPIC, which appears here; Alley died in September of 2000 at age 75.
The two women in the Diocese of New Westminster were among six throughout Canada ordained the same day. The others were in the Dioceses of Cariboo, Niagara, and Huron. The ordinations had been authorized by General Synod earlier that year.