Attitudes to women in ministry; new opportunities for service in the church; and personal issues which affect the lives of women are among the wide range of subjects to be covered at an historic two-day conference being hosted by ordained women in the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands on October 21 and 22.
The Conference under the theme “Women in Ordained Ministry: Called, Liberated, Ordained for Service” will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Port Royal Street in downtown Kingston. Especially designed for women who serve in the Anglican Church, it is one of the events to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the ordination of women as deacons and priests in the Diocese and the Province of the West Indies. It will be officially opened by the Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Howard Gregory.
Conference Coordinator, the Very Rev. Annett Brown, explains that: “It will give participants an opportunity to reflect on the expectations and experience of ordained and non-ordained women in ministry over the past two decades. And we will also focus on issues such as daily intimacy with God, health, time and stress management, as well as financial and retirement planning,” she said.
Delegates from other Dioceses in the Province of the West Indies, as well as other denominations, will participate in the historic conference. They include the Rt. Rev. Dr. Yvette Noble-Bloomfield, Moderator of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, who will make a special presentation based on the Conference theme. Other presenters include the Rev. Dr. Stephen Jennings, Senior Pastor at the Mona Baptist Church; Dr. Michael Abrahams, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist; Dr. Blossom Anglin-Brown, Internist; and Dr. Susan Shirley- Newnham, Pathologist. Financial specialist, Mrs. Claudette Jackson Rickards of Guardian Life Insurance Company and Mr. Frank James, Chief Financial Officer, GraceKennedy Limited, complete the line-up of experts who will lead the discussions.
The first three women in the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands were admitted to the Order of Deacons on February 6, 1994. Two years later, in December 1996, they, along with another woman deacon, were ordained to the priesthood – an area of ministry which, prior to that time, was reserved for men.
The ordination of women to the priesthood was first recommended in 1968 by the consultative body of Bishops known as the Lambeth Conference, at a meeting in England. At that time, it was a controversial issue in the Anglican Communion – the worldwide body representing some 85 million members of the Anglican Church in more than 165 countries. There are now more than 40 women in the Supplementary and full-time Ministry of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands. Four of the women ordained over the years now serve overseas.