This website is best viewed with CSS and JavaScript enabled.

Celebrating the 80th anniversary of the first Anglican woman priest

Posted on: January 11, 2024 12:41 PM
St Martin-in-the-Fields, Dick Sheppard Chapel, Reverend Dr Florence Li Tim-Oi icon, by sister Ellen Francis Poisson

A service to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi is to be held at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, on Thursday 25 January. 

The Revd Dr Florence Li Tim-Oi was ordained on 25 January 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. Florence 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. Florence was, therefore, licensed to do this as a deacon and eventually ordained priest by Bishop R.O Hall of Hong Kong. 

Mandy Marshall, Director of Gender Justice at the Anglican Communion and a member of the planning committee organising the celebrations, said, “The Revd Dr 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, Revd Dr 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 organised 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 Revd Frances Shoesmith, a granddaughter of Bishop Hall, will be leading the service and her father Canon Christopher Hall is hosting the reception afterwards. There will be contributions from the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the British Chinese community and 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 programmes 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. 

Find out more about the Revd Dr Florence Li Tim-Oi here: