The Archbishop of Canterbury said the Church of England still has a "long way to go" as he spoke of the scars and "hurt" suffered by campaigners in favour of women's ordination in the face of "knee-jerk" resistance to change.
"The Most Rev Justin Welby urged celebration with "boundless fullness of heart and no holding back" - declaring it is "birthday time, party time" on the 20th anniversary of the ordination of the first women to the priesthood in the Church of England.
But he told more than 2,000 people, including 700 women ordained as priests in 1994, their family and supporters gathered at a national service in St Paul's Cathedral, that they should not overlook the cost to those who had made the change possible.
He said there was "much to celebrate" on the anniversary but the "sacrificial commitment" of those who achieved change should be remembered.
"In our celebrations let us not overlook the cost, the bitterness of disappointment and rejection, the knee-jerk resistance of an institution facing change," he said..."