Friday, November 11, 2016

"First Woman Bishop in Wales Endured Sexism on her Way to the Top" By Clare Williams in Local People

Nov.9, 2016

Canon Joanna Penberthy
Congratulations Bishop Joanna on another crack in stained glass ceiling! Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP.

"Canon Joanna is no stranger to challenging the boundaries of the church and is one of the pioneering campaigners for women’s ordination back in the 1980s and 90s. She is no stranger to trailblazing either and was among the first group of women priests to be ordained in Wales. Now she is the first woman in Wales to be elevated to episcopate.
The Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan announced at the west door of St Davids Cathedral last Wednesday that Cannon Joanna had secured the necessary two-thirds majority vote from members of the Electoral College which met behind locked doors at the cathedral for a day and a half.
"It’s something I’ve grown used to," she said, as she spent her first day back in the diocese fielding questions from the media.
"Conflict of itself is not something to be avoided; what should be avoided is animosity. The open and honest expression of differing views is absolutely fine."
"Being someone who was at the beginning of women’s ministry in the Church in Wales, when there was a certain amount of animosity, it gives me a certain amount of staying power and determination to persevere through difficult circumstances and the possibility of finding joy, excitement and nourishment in unexpected places, and making alliances."
Her new role is the next step in the journey that began forty years ago during a chance visit to Winchester Cathedral, on the way back to Wales from a family holiday at the age of sixteen.
"I found myself in what I later discovered was the Epiphany Chapel," she recalls.
"I can’t remember what happened but I came out with a sure sense that God was calling me to ministry. I had no real idea what that involved, whether it was possible or whether there were women doing it.
"I remember the stunned feeling I had knowing I had been called to this strange and new thing. When you’re 16 you just naively go for it. [I had] a powerful sense that this was what I was called to do, not to achieve something but simply to bear witness to the fact that God had called this young woman."
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Canon Joanna as her ordination training has to be done in England as at that time, women were barred from undertaking it in Wales.
It was this early era of sexism in the church that Canon Joanna has to thank for meeting her husband.
She said: "I wasn’t allowed to go to the Church in Wales theological college because I was told there weren’t any ladies’ loos. so I had to go to an English one.
"I said jokingly that i was going to bring back an English ordinant, but that’s what actually happened."
Canon Joanna continued on to answer her call to the church, which always came with a Welsh accent.
"Many of the first tranche of women ordained in England were people I had trained with, said Canon Joanna, "so it was very hard that the vote had gone against it in Wales. But it never occurred to me I should nip over the border because I felt very strongly that my calling was to bear witness to women’s vocation in Wales, in the Church in Wales."
Archbishop, Dr Morgan, said: "This is an historic moment for the Church in Wales as it hasn’t been possible to elect a woman bishop until now. But what is really important to stress is that Joanna wasn’t elected because she was a woman but because she was deemed to be the best person to be a bishop.
"She has considerable gifts – she is an excellent preacher and communicator, can relate to all sections of the community, is a warm, charismatic, caring priest and someone who is full of joy."
The confidential electoral college is made up of representatives of all six Welsh dioceses and the five remaining Bishops.
Bishop of Swansea and Brecon John Davies praised Canon Joanna on her appointment.
He said: "Jo is an immensely gifted theological reflector and teacher with wide experience in a variety of roles in ministry, both in England and Wales, and a highly-respected, much-loved parish priest wherever she’s been.
"She is also a gifted communicator to people of all levels and of all ages and will bring a huge amount of talent, faith and inspiration both to her diocese and the Bench of Bishops.
"I will be immensely sorry to see her leave the benefice of Glan Ithon. The people of the parish where she’s loved and respected will miss her and her husband Adrian hugely, as will the people of the West Radnor ministry area, where she is the leader designate."
Roy Palmer, emeritus churchwarden of Llandrindod, also paid tribute, and said: "Canon Joanna has been absolutely wonderful. She is lively, she listens, and she has brought a new dimension to the parish. Her sermons are stimulating and thought-provoking and she is always willing to explain her thinking behind them, which is very rewarding for me and others.
"She has been a real asset and we will miss her very much."
Canon Jo, who studied at Cambridge, was first appointed a Deaconess in 1984 in Durham, and moved to Wales the following year and held church posts in Cardiff before moving to the Dioceses of St Asaph in North Wales in 1989 and was based in St Davids from 1993 to 2010.
She was then Priest in Charge at churches in the Dioceses of Bath and Wells before taking her post in Llandrindod Wells in 2015.
Canon Joanne will be Bishop Elect until the appointment is formally confirmed by the Archbishop at a Sacred Synod service on November 30. She will then be consecrated as a bishop at Llandaff Cathedral – the seat of the current Archbishop of Wales - on January 21 and enthroned in St Davids Cathedral on February 11.
Her election follows the retirement of Wyn Evans, who served as Bishop of St Davids for eight years. St Davids diocese takes in the west Wales counties of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.
Canon Joanna said: "I am immensely humbled and honoured at the trust that has been placed in me. I am very much looking forward to returning to St Davids and serving God’s people as their Bishop."

No comments: