ANGLICANS in Ballarat have joined the fold of dioceses that have ordained women priests.
Reverend Anne McKenna from Stawell and Reverend Robyn Shackell from Warrnambool became the first female priests ordained by the Ballarat diocese, at a ceremony at the Ballarat Anglican Cathedral on Saturday.
Anglican Bishop of Ballarat Garry Weatherill described Saturday’s ceremony as “very significant” for the church in the region.
“It is the first time women have been ordained in the Ballarat diocese,” Bishop Weatherill said.
“It has been happening in Australia for 20 years, but Ballarat has been very slow in that regard. Ballarat has been traditionally very conservative.
“This brings us into line with most of Australia, although there are many parts of the Anglican Church, such as in Africa, where there are still no women priests.”
The Anglican Synod of Ballarat approved the ordination of women to the priesthood in October. The vote was not unanimous, however.
Reverend McKenna will serve as priest-in-charge of the Stawell parish, while Reverend Shackell is assistant priest of the Warrnambool parish.
Bishop Weatherill said while their ordination was an important landmark for the church in the region, it was unlikely to signal a wholesale change in the priesthood in the region.
“There will probably not be a great change . We are not expecting a tidal wave of women priests,” he said.
“These are two women who have been well known to us for a long time, who have been actively involved with the church for many years and have a calling to ministry.”
Two deacons, Mathew Crane of Warrnambool and Geoffrey Humble, were also ordained at the ceremony.