​Bishop of Ballarat Garry
Weatherill: backing of
women's ordination "a very
significant change".

​Ballarat’s Anglican Synod has endorsed the ordination of women in a historic move by a diocese that was a bulwark against women priests in the Australian Church.

The Synod, meeting on 18 October, backed the change after a long period of consultations around the western Victorian diocese leading up to the vote. Ballarat is the last of Victoria’s five diocese to accept that women may be ordained priests.

Bishop Garry Weatherill, who has led Ballarat’s Anglicans for the past two years, told the ABC that as Ballarat had been recognised as one of the more conservative parts of the Anglican Church on this issue, “it's really a very significant change at that Australian level”.

"For ordinary people, there's not going to be hundreds of women priests suddenly running into the diocese, it'll just mean women can be ordained," he said.

Bishop Weatherill said lay people voted overwhelmingly in support of change, while two-thirds of the clergy voted to allow ordination.

"I think there's a changed understanding amongst many people that ministry is something that women can do well and the priestly ministry probably ought not to be exclusively for men,” he said.

"One of the speakers said if women are good enough to be baptised, they ought to be good enough to be ordained."

Women were first ordained as deacons in the Anglican Church of Australia in 1986 and as priests in 1992. Only four Australian dioceses – Sydney, Armidale, North West Australia and The Murray (in south-eastern South Australia) – do not ordain women as priests.

See the forthcoming November edition of TMA (The Melbourne Anglican) for more coverage.

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