80th anniversary celebration planned to honor first Anglican woman priest

Posted Jan 11, 2024

An icon of the Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman ordained priest in the Anglican Communion, that was written by Sister Ellen Francis Poisson, is in the Dick Sheppard Chapel at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, England. Photo: Anglican Communion News Service

[Anglican Communion News Service] A service to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi will take place at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, England, on Jan. 25.

The Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi was ordained on Jan. 25, 1944. She was ordained deacon on Ascension Day in 1941 after hearing the call to ministry 10 years earlier at the ordination of a deaconess in Hong Kong Cathedral. Li Tim-Oi was given charge of the Anglican congregation in the Portuguese colony of Macau where, at the time, refugees were fleeing to from China.

Priests were unable to travel from Japanese occupied territories and therefore could not preside over the Eucharist for her. Li Tim-Oi was, therefore, licensed to do this as a deacon and eventually ordained priest by Hong Kong Bishop R.O Hall.

Mandy Marshall, director of gender justice at the Anglican Communion and a member of the planning committee organizing the celebrations, said, “The Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi remains an inspiration and a hope to women around the Anglican Communion. As the first female priest in an Anglican Church, Rev.Li Tim-Oi faced many challenges to her ministry and yet she persisted. She is a figure of hope to those women who are called by God to serve and yearn to be ordained and yet remain frustrated by differing theological beliefs on the ordination of women.”

The anniversary service is being organized by the Li Tim-Oi Foundation, which gives grants to women in the Anglican Communion so that they can follow their God-given calling. The Rev. Frances Shoesmith, a granddaughter of Hall, will be leading the service and her father, the Rev. Christopher Hall, is hosting the reception afterwards. There will be contributions from the London Bishop Sarah Mullally, Dover Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin and the British Chinese community. Music will be provided by the Soul Sanctuary Choir.

The Li Tim-Oi Foundation and the Tea House Trust are members of a global Anglican planning committee where churchwide programs in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi will be taking place throughout this year. They will include theological education and open cultural exchanges as well as church services.

More information about the Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi is available here.