Four clergywomen from the Diocese of Blackburn have stepped into additional new roles, alongside their existing parish responsibilities.
The Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson is commissioning the new Dean of Women’s Ministry and three new Assistant Archdeacons.
Three were commissioned on Sunday June 12 at Lancaster Priory, with a further service at Blackburn Cathedral on July 5 for the fourth clergywoman.
The new Dean of Women’s Ministry is Rev. Anne Beverley, Vicar of Christ Church, Wesham. Meanwhile Rev. Fleur Green, Vicar of Broughton Parish and Rev. Leah Vasey-Saunders, Vicar of Lancaster Priory will be Assistant Archdeacons of Lancaster, supporting the Archdeacon of Lancaster, The Venerable David Picken in the Lancaster Archdeaconry.
And Rev. Sarah Gill, Vicar of St Stephen’s and St James in Blackburn will be Assistant Archdeacon of Blackburn working with existing Assistant Archdeacon, Rev. Grant Ashton alongside the Archdeacon of Blackburn, the Venerable Mark Ireland in the Blackburn Archdeaconry. Rev. Sarah is also the current Bishop’s Adviser on UKME issues.
Speaking today, Anne said: “I was very humbled to be asked by the Bishop to be the latest Dean of Women’s Ministry. This is an important role that sits on the Bishop’s Leadership Team and is common to most Dioceses.
“I want to use the role to encourage women to take more high-profile positions wherever possible in the Diocese – both ordained but also female Licensed Lay Ministers (LLMs). I am looking forward to getting started!”
Rev. Leah Vasey-Saunders commented: “I said yes when I was asked to be Assistant Archdeacon because of the opportunity this presents to focus on supporting our wonderful clergy on the ground. I will also relish the opportunity to add capacity to the senior team; supporting lay as well as ordained ministry; I am passionate about both clergy and laity flourishing alongside each other.
“Of course, representation is important too and, as a woman, this also gives me and my female colleagues a chance to be role models; hopefully inspiring other women to step up in the diocese.”
Her colleague, Rev. Fleur Green, added: “I am honoured to have been asked because it gives me a new chance to support our parishes. And being a parish priest means I also bring that experience and perspective to the role. Our Diocesan Vision 2026 aims to create healthy churches transforming communities across Lancashire. I will do whatever I can in this new role to enable people to fulfil that vision; to flourish and to live out their faith fully - whether lay or ordained.”
Anne, Leah and Fleur will all be commissioned this Sunday at Lancaster Priory at 6.30pm. Meanwhile Rev. Sarah Gill, who will be commissioned at the Cathedral on July 5 at 5pm said: “The invitation to be Assistant Archdeacon, alongside my role as Bishop’s Adviser on UKME issues, is a great privilege. I am very much looking forward to supporting the Archdeacon of Blackburn and other parishes in the Archdeaconry.
“Working in both these roles will give me a new and different point of view. I hope that as a woman of UKME heritage I can also bring fresh perspectives and thinking of my own to our ongoing work; while seeing and experiencing life at the wider Diocesan level which, in turn, will strengthen my own parish ministry.”
Commenting on the appointments Bishop Julian said today: "I am delighted that Fleur, Leah, and Sarah have agreed to take on the role of Assistant Archdeacon in the diocese of Blackburn, joining Grant who has been in post a while. It is equally pleasing that Anne has agreed to become Dean of Women's Ministry in the diocese.
"These appointments are designed to provide prayerful and practical support to Archdeacons Mark Ireland and David Picken and wise counsel to the bishops of the Diocese. I hope that they will also bring with them a diversity of perspectives and opinions to the Leadership Team, confirming that what people of all backgrounds have to offer is valued and appreciated at all levels in the Church.
"I commend them and what they stand for to your prayers and trust their ministry will be welcomed throughout the diocese.
Ronnie Semley, June 2022