National Conference for 30th Anniversary of Women Priests

Rev'd Dr Lesley McLean in the procession for the 2022 MOW Conference



Held at Christ Church St Laurence, 812 George Street, Sydney, 16-18 September 2022

it was attended by members and those drawn from all over Australia to listen to our great speakers, meet others concerned for the status of women in our church and to enjoy sharing stories of the past and the present.


Thirty years after the Anglican Church in Australia ordained women priests, the conference honoured those who fought for women’s ordination over many years and celebrated the courage and service of ordained women, be they deacons, priests, bishops or archbishops.

Participants were welcomed with drinks and nibbles served by parishioners of Christ Church St Laurence


and getting to know you or meeting up again after SO long


Formal proceedings began with a Welcome from President the Rev’d Dr Lesley McLean


And an Acknowledgement of Country by Dr Aunty Rose Elu


We began with a panel focusing on the mainly lay-inspired groups agitating for discussion on the ordination of women.

Lesley McLean outlined the beginning of the discussion about the ordinatinon of women in Adelaide with the founding of Women in Holy Orders? (WHO?)

then Dr Gwen Roberts talked about the beginnings in Brisbane.

Her display in St John’s Cathedral earlier in the year attracted the attention of younger women clergy who were a lively contingent at the conference.




Professor Eileen Baldry AO spoke on the beginnings of MOW

She, like many others, took the opportunity to catch up with old friends


A Q&A with Dr Julia Baird and the Hon Keith Mason AO, KC addressed the topic of  Australian dioceses that, even now, are limiting or refusing to acknowledge women’s ordained ministry.


There were plenty of questions and much discussion: the roving mike was much in demand.




began with another welcome especially to those who had not attended Friday evening and an Acknowledgement to Country by the Rev’d Shannon Smith


Unfortunately the Rev’d Val Graydon was not able to host this section owing to illness but her place was ably taken by the Rev’d Lu Piper


PERSONAL JOURNEYS, so pertinent to women’s truth telling, brought us to a journey towards the Religious Life and Ordination

with the Rev’d Sr Elisa Helen Waterhouse, Provincial of the Sisters of the Church in Australia.

Lesley, an old family friend, Associate of CSC and a fellow old scholar, with Sr Elisa of the Sisters’ school in Adelaide, introduced her.



The Reverend Shannon Smith bravely took the mike. Shannon’s luggage had been lost – with her vestments for the service next day, and her speech. She commented later that she was pleased (in a way) as her journey towards ordination as a First Nations woman was more heartfelt and immediate.



We then moved to some seriously theological and biblical  and institutional discussion, firstly with Dr Jacqueline Service on theological aspects of women’s ordination


Ms Anne Hywood spoke on the impact of women’s ministry on the national church.

We were called to lunch by Ruth Champion, during which time the Queensland contingent had their photo taken in the Belltower library


After lunch and more deep and personal conversation, lighthearted banter and lots of hugs…



… we settled down to a focus on the future with  the Rev’d Canon Professor Dorothy Lee, seen here with national MOW secretary, Dr Elaine Lindsay



Dorothy spoke on women and leadership in the New Testament

and the Rev’d Dr Colleen O’Reilly AM on barriers to women achieving significant leadership roles in the church.


The fourth and last session of the conference was an Open Session chaired by Mr Phillip Seale, the convenor of MOW Sydney.

The conference speakers lined up, comfortably seated, to answer questions on what has been achieved and where to now?


A lively discussion ensued.

and continued into the evening over an informal dinner at the Incafé Restaurant near the conference venue.

The history of MOW was represented by many of the delegates: Colleen O’Reilly And Eileen Baldry were active in Sydney pre-MOW and after; Lesley McLean was a founding member of Adelaide’s group.

Kathleen Toal, national treasure since 1986, Judy Little long-time member of Sydney MOW chat with Georgie Hawley past national president.

Champion workers for change at General Synod, especially the Women Bishop canon from L Colleen O’Reilly , Muriel Porter (in pink) and R. Anne Hywood

 Julia Baird, member of MOW when a teenager.


The conference was not live-streamed but a video and conference proceedings will be available in due course. If you wish to be included on a mailing list, please email

The MOW conference booklet can be accessed here: MOW Con



Alice Oppen, R – the videoing


The Society of the Sacred Mission – travel and accommodation of two First Nations women


and represented by two members of Chapter


Dave Coleman – the webmaster who added the facility to register for the conference and pay membership on-line





 THE PREACHER, THE REV’D CANON MARA DI FRANCESCO IS SEEN CENTRE.Mara is the parish priest at St Martin’s Campbelltown, a suburb of Adelaide. As the first woman of Italian descent to be ordained in the Anglican Church in Australia, she was invited by the Archbishop of Adelaide to come to St Martin’s which is situated in a previously market garden area with a high Italian population and where Mara has had an exceptional ministry over many years.    And a woman bishop


Author: Lesley Mclean