Canon Ruth Jefferson celebrates communion at St Philip's in 1989

Canon Ruth Jefferson

On 2 April 1989, St Philip's welcomed Canon Ruth Jefferson to preach and celebrate the Holy Communion. It was the first occasion in the Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn that a clergywoman had, with official sanction, celebrated the eucharist. The picture to the right appeared with a short article on the front page of the May 1989 edition of the Diocese's Anglican News.

A Canadian, Ruth is an ordained priest of the Anglican Church of Canada and was Chaplain at the Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the time of her visit.

Canon Ruth Jefferson

The first ordination of a woman as an Anglican priest in Canada was in 1976. The Anglican Church of Australia first ordained women as priests in 1992—beginning in Perth, followed by Canberra & Goulburn. Canberra & Goulburn's then Bishop, Owen Dowling, was a leading advocate in Australia of the ordination of women.

Ruth had been a member of the World Council of Churches Central Committee since 1983 and of the Assembly Planning Committee since 1987. She was in Canberra to participate in the planning of the Council's 7th Assembly to be held in Canberra in 1991.

The Revd Doug Bannerman, then Rector of St Philip's, said it was the Parish's "good fortune" that she had accepted our invitation to come to St Philip's, "a small step for human rights in the Anglican Church of Australia."

With her husband, Canon Philip Jefferson, Canon Ruth Jefferson now lives Dundas Ontario and is an Honorary Assistant Priest at St. John's, Ancaster, in the Diocese of Niagara.