World's first female diocesan Anglican bishop appointed

29 June 1990

Dr Penny Jamieson’s rise through church ranks was rapid. The first women were ordained to the Anglican priesthood in New Zealand in 1977. Jamieson was ordained and appointed to a Wellington parish in 1985. She was elected by her peers to the see of Dunedin just five years later.

Born in England, she married New Zealander Ian Jamieson and moved with him to Wellington. There she worked with the Wellington City Mission while writing her doctoral thesis. It was during this time that she developed a vocation to the priesthood.

Her appointment as Bishop of Dunedin in June 1990 did not meet with universal approval. Bishop Whakahuihui Vercoe refused to attend the ceremony, believing that it was not culturally appropriate to have a female bishop. He still held this opinion when he was appointed Anglican Archbishop of New Zealand in 2004.

For her part, Jamieson saw her appointment as giving ‘enormous encouragement’ to women in all churches and in society at large. She felt that ‘the glass ceiling’ had been broken. At her investiture as a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004, however, she expressed disappointment that no women had yet followed in her footsteps.

The Right Reverend Dr Penny Jamieson retired in June 2004. In August 2008 The Right Reverend Victoria Matthews, formerly Bishop of Edmonton, Canada, became New Zealand’s second woman bishop when she was elected Bishop of Christchurch.

image: Penny Jamieson (episcopa)