An Anglican Woman Ordained Priest in the Middle East

Mideast‘s only woman priest

By FRANCES LEATE,  Posted on » Friday, September 27, 2013

THE region’s only female priest will be ordained in a ceremony in Bahrain today.

Reverend Jo Henderson, from the UK, will be officially ordained by the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf the Right Reverend Michael Lewis at St Christopher‘s Cathedral, in Manama.

She will become the only practising female priest in the Middle East and will be based at St Andrew’s Church, in Abu Dhabi, where she will work as an assistant chaplain.

Her duties will include presiding over communions, preaching, offering pastoral care and conducting marriages, funerals and baptisms.

She is only the second female priest to be ordained in the Gulf.

“It is very exciting,” she said.

“I have already had my ordination ceremony in Abu Dhabi and I was the first female priest to be ordained there, which is another big milestone.

“It really shows the openness here and I have felt very welcomed by the wider community, first as a Christian and as a woman, so things are really starting to move forward in that respect.”

Reverend Henderson’s ordination ceremony is taking place in Bahrain because of the country’s status as the cathedral of the Gulf.

“Because of the cultural differences and the place of women in society in general in this region, it is rare to have a woman priest,” said St Christopher’s Cathedral dean Reverend Christopher Butt.

“I believe that women can be very good priests. Without making stereotypes they can have a very hands-on and compassionate approach to what they do when sometimes men can take a more administrative approach.

“There’s a real sense that men and women working together within ministries are important in order to fully express the wholeness of life.

“I think the church does need to have more women priests and not just in the Gulf region.

“It seems strange that in the gospels where Jesus so often liberates women, the church itself has been very slow when opening up its orders to women.

“But really, it is not about whether a priest is male or female, but more about their humanity itself.”

Reverend Henderson’s predecessor, Catherine Dawkins, was the first female priest in the Anglican Church to be ordained in the Middle East.

Her ceremony also took place in Bahrain in 2011, but she has since left the region to practise elsewhere.

______________________________________________________________

YES! It’s now a fact. The Revd. Jo Henderson is the only woman priest to be exercising ministry in the Middle East. Following upon the ordination of the very first woman to be ordained priest in the middle East – the Reverend Catherine Dawkins, who is now working in another area – Jo is the sole female clergy-person in what is generally known to be a part of the world where women’s rights are only slowly being recognised.

However, as the Dean of St. Christopher’s Anglican Cathedral in Bahrain, the Very Revd. Christopher Butt, rightly point out:

“I think the church does need to have more women priests and not just in the Gulf region.

“It seems strange that in the gospels where Jesus so often liberates women, the church itself has been very slow when opening up its orders to women.”

Let’s hope that, in the wake of the Church of England’s General Synod in November, the members will take not of the fact that more and more of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion are recognising the need for the ministry of Women in Leadership in Churches of the Communion.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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