Introduction by the Bishop of Southwark,
The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
Welcome to Here Am I, a very special exhibition of photography I am delighted to have commissioned from photo storyteller, Jim Grover, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England. I have very much enjoyed Jim’s previous exhibitions and the insight that they have given into people’s lives, and I know that you will be intrigued and excited by the view into the ministries of these 12 women priests from the Diocese of Southwark.
As we look back over the 25 years in which women have been ordained into the priesthood, I give thanks that women can now be ordained into each of three historic orders of ministry: as Deacons, Priests and Bishops. Four women whose vocations were nurtured in or who have served in the Diocese of Southwark are now Bishops: the Bishop of London, The Rt Revd Sarah Mullally; the Bishop of Newcastle, The Rt Revd Christine Hardman; the Bishop of Taunton, The Rt Revd Ruth Worsley; and the Bishop of Warrington, The Rt Revd Beverley Mason. It is good to see their ministries recognised in this way and we can take pride in the part that the Diocese of Southwark was able to play in their vocational and ministerial journeys.
Click photos to enlarge; from left:
The Rt Revd Sarah Mullally (Photo: Max Colson)
The Rt Revd Christine Hardman (Photo: Diane Patrice Photography)
The Rt Revd Ruth Worsley
The Rt Revd Beverley Mason
This exhibition captures the diversity of those engaged in ministry in the Diocese and the variety of the ministries in which they are involved. Here you will see those who work in our parishes as full-time (that is, stipendiary) priests, those who work in our parishes as self-supporting ministers (that is, volunteer ministers), those who work in hospitals and prisons and an Archdeacon at work.
I hope that you will find this exhibition inspiring and thought-provoking, that it will give you a sense of some of the work being undertaken throughout the Church of England as we seek to bring God’s Good News to those in our communities. Women and men are called to be God’s eyes and hands in their local areas, lay and ordained working together to bring healing and hope. I hope that, as you go around this exhibition and read the narrative texts or reflect whilst looking through this exhibition catalogue later, you will take the time to stop and ask ‘what might the Lord be calling me to do?’ or, indeed, ‘who is the Lord calling me to be?’ ‘Is there something that God has been asking of me that I have tried to avoid?’ Or it might be that you have already said ‘Here Am I’ to God and want to give thanks for all that this has meant. Or you might simply want to give thanks for all those called to be priests in the Church of God and for their ministry.
Whatever has brought you to this exhibition I am absolutely sure that you will love the photographs which Jim has taken and the stories that are told in photographs and words. Jim has taken time to get to know these 12 women and to tell their stories sensitively and compellingly. I hope that you will find them as inspiring as I know Jim has, and I do.