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Celebrating 20 years of women clergy

Hundreds of women clergy and their family and friends have gathered ahead of a national service to mark the 20th anniversary of the first female priests in the Church of England.

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Archbishop of Canterbury leads service to celebrate 20 years of women clergy

Hundreds gathered for the procession led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Credit: PA

The Archbishop of Canterbury has led a service today to mark the 20th anniversary of the first female priests to join the Church of England.

Hundreds of women priests and their supporters accompanied The Most Reverand Justin Welby in a procession from Westminster, to St Paul's Cathedral.

Hundreds gathered for the procession led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Credit: PA

The service has heard readings and personal testimonies.

Those at the service included senior Church of England female clergy such as the Very Rev June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury, the Venerable Cherry Vann, Archdeacon of Rochdale, and the Venerable Dr Jane Hedges, Archdeacon of Westminster.

Hundreds gathered for the procession led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Credit: PA

The General Synod gave approval for women priests in 1992 and the first wave of women to be ordained took place in March 1994. The move sparked a walkout by some traditionalists.

The number of ordained women in the Church of England has now risen to around a third.

The service comes before the Church of England is expected to give final approval to legislation introducing women bishops in July, paving the way for the first female bishop to be appointed by early next year.

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