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You will preach in cathedrals

After sixteen years campaigning for the Church of England to allow women to become priests, Angela Berners-Wilson technically became the first woman to be ordained. Given that the debate over women being suitable for the job had lasted for centuries, this was a huge glass ceiling for Angela to break through. She is currently a chaplain at the University of Bath, and in 2009 was appointed a prebendary of Wells Cathedral. Angela has conducted live interviews for local and national radio and television, appeared on Al Jazeera television, took a month’s sabbatical in China, and, in 1987, was married to Andrew Sillett. She believes that God is without gender. In 2013, Angela hoped to one day be invited to the ordination of the first woman bishop. In 2015, her wish came true when Libby Lane became the first woman to be appointed as a bishop of the Church of England. "I think," says Angela, "the Church should be the first place, not the last place to recognize all God's children."

Dear Thirteen-Year-Old Angela,

First of all, Happy Birthday! I know you are celebrating your thirteenth birthday on holiday with your parents in Sark in the Channel Islands, and that they gave you your first mini transistor radio as a birthday present. I hope you enjoy it. Believe it or not, but by the time you reach the age of fifty-nine you will be able to listen to Radio 4 using headphones plugged into a device called an iPhone, which fits into my hand bag, so is easily portable when I’m on the go.

I know you are quite shy, but as you grow up you will gain in confidence and find that you are able to do all sorts of things you never imagined you could do – like preaching in cathedrals, conducting live interviews for local and national radio and television, and even appearing on Al Jazeera television.

Ignore those silly girls at boarding school who tease you so much – you are just as good as them. I think it is because you are an only child, and not accustomed to the rough and tumble of family life with brothers and sisters to tease you, that you are more vulnerable to bullying.

Never let anyone talk you into doing something you don’t want to do, or that you know is wrong. Trust your conscience in all things, and remember that Jesus is always with you even though you can’t see him.

Also, know that your parents love you very much and are there for you. By the time you are in your late forties, you will have lost them both, but by then you will have a lovely husband to care for you and to care for, and you will be used to standing on your own two feet.

I believe that you want to be a writer? Well, don’t forget that there are lots of ways of writing in many different careers; you don’t have to be an international bestselling author to make use of your gift! Don’t neglect the creative streak in you and keep on writing those poems.

I hope you have a wonderful life. Remember to treat others as you would like to be treated, and respect everyone no matter what their status in life is.

I am really glad that you have the travel bug and enjoy visiting new places and meeting new people, and I’m wishing you all the best in your future.

With my love and prayers,


Angela, her mother, and her grandmother.

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