In February, the Anglican Church of Canada will mark the 30th anniversary of the day it first consecrated a woman as bishop. The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews was consecrated suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Toronto in 1994; and 9th Bishop of Edmonton in 1997. She is currently the episcopal administrator of the Anglican Diocese of Moosonee and bishop in residence for St. Matthew’s Anglican Cathedral in Timmins, Ontario.
Matthews was only the 5th woman to be consecrated as bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Barbara Harris of the Episcopal Church in the United States had been the first, in 1989.
“Over the past 50 years, the Anglican Church of Canada has opened itself to the leadership of ordained women, first as priests and then as bishops,” said Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. “Their gifts and perspectives have enriched our church, bringing different points of view on scripture, ministry, human relationships and world events.”
The Rt. Rev. Jane Alexander was elected the 10th Bishop of Edmonton in 2008. That year, Bishop Matthews became Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand. Both women led their dioceses in times of uncertainty: the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake in 2011; and the COVID pandemic that prompted Bishop Jane to make the difficult decision of temporarily closing Anglican churches to in-person worship.
Bishop Matthews resigned as Bishop of Christchurch in 2018 and was appointed to her role in the Diocese of Moosonee in 2022.
Bishop Jane served the Edmonton diocese until 2021, having delayed her resignation to shepherd the Edmonton diocese through the pandemic.
Bishop Matthews ordained current Bishop of Edmonton Stephen London, and Stephanie London, rector of St. Columba, Beaumont, in 2004.
In the 30 years since Bishop Matthews’ consecration, 21 more women have been elected as bishops in Canada. The Anglican Church of Canada will celebrate women bishops with an online panel discussion on February 26.
Pictured, from left: Bishops Victoria and Jane (holding Graeme) with Dean Alex Meek in 2018.