An East Midlands cathedral has become the first in Church of England history to have an all-female clergy team.
Rev Canon Karen Rooms has become the acting dean of Leicester, leading a team of four other women clergy: canon precentor Rev Canon Emma Davies, Canon pastor Rev Canon Alison Adams and curates Rev Manuela Schmucki and Julia Bradshaw.
Her appointment came after Rev David Monteith left his post to serve as the dean of Canterbury earlier this year.
It is the first all-female team to run a cathedral in the country – though the team at Portsmouth comes in a close second being all-female apart from its dean.
“Every Cathedral has a dean and two clergy, so there's always at least three clergy at a cathedral. And those appointments are made like any other senior appointment, you apply for the role. But over the last few years at Leicester, it's women who have taken on those roles and been appointed to them,“ Rev Canon Karen Rooms told Premier.
“And then I was asked to be the acting dean, whilst we look for a new dean, hence, we all happen to be female. So on the one hand, it's just kind of happened. On the other hand, you do have to be intentional about investing in female clergy.”
Leicester Cathedral has a tradition of ‘female firsts’. In 1974, it became the first to admit girls to its choir. It also appointed the first female Cathedral dean in 2002.
Rev Canon Karen continued: “I think it makes a massive difference to women to see women in leadership. And I think any minority, we're not just talking about women here. When you see yourself at the front, you think, well, maybe that could be me.”
The Church of England ordained its first female priest in 1994, while female bishops weren't allowed until 2014.
The chair of the Association of English Cathedrals and the Dean of St Albans, Very Rev Jo Kelly Moore said:
“I am so grateful in my ministry for the men whom I have worked with who have opened the doors with intention, and sometimes opposition, to recognise and rejoice in the ministry of women.”
There are currently female deans in post at twelve out of 42 cathedrals – Bristol, Guildford, Hereford, Leicester, Lichfield, Liverpool, Newcastle, St Albans, Sheffield, Southwell, Wells and Winchester.