The first woman to be ordained as a bishop by the Church in Wales has described her consecration at the weekend as “awe-inspiring.”
Bishop Joanna Penberthy remarked : “I didn’t think at the beginning of my ministry that I would ever see women in the episcopate but you had to keep believing. What was important was living out the calling that we had at that time and by doing so, opening people’s eyes to the fact that God doesn’t just call men, God calls all of us to his ministry in a way which fits our own particular gifts and talents.”
The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, paid tribute to the church’s women clergy for “daring to trust and hope” during what had been a “long and hard journey” to ordination. More than 500 people attended the bilingual service at Llandaff Cathedral, during which Morgan, assisted by the church’s five other bishops, ordained Penberthy, anointed her with the oil of chrism and presented her with the symbols of office – the episcopal ring, pectoral cross and mitre.
In his sermon, Morgan, who had been invited to preach by Penberthy, said: “It is wonderful that it is now possible for the Church in Wales to appoint women as well as men to all three Orders and to regard that as being perfectly normal. It has been a long and hard journey for women – first to be made deacon, then priest and now bishop. But the great thing about our women clergy is that they did not give up or become cynical or bitter. They dared to trust and dared to hope and so are part of a long and distinguished company of people in the Old and New Testaments who trusted in God’s promises and hoped against hope that all would be well.”
There were cheers at the end of the service as Penberthy was led out of the cathedral with all the Welsh bishops. The new Bishop will be enthroned at St. David’s Cathedral next month: “Today has been a marvellous day and one which the Church has been praying about and moving towards for a long time” she said. “I hope not simply to be encouraging my clergy and our people to be sharing our faith in the community but also to get to understand life for people in St David’s Diocese, particularly with the difficulties which lie ahead for rural communities because of the Brexit vote (Britain’s exit from the European Union) and ongoing austerity.”
The consecration of Penberthy was one of the last public acts of Morgan before he retires at the end of this month. He has campaigned tirelessly for the ordination of women: “I never expected to be consecrating the first woman bishop so it is a sheer delight to do that here in Llandaff” he said. “I can’t think of a nicer way to end my ministry – it is fantastic.”