Women have been ordained priests by a Lancashire diocesan bishop for the first time.
A special service took place at the weekend, and the Rt Rev Julian Henderson became the first Bishop of Blackburn to ordain women Anglican priests alongside their male colleagues.
New priests include a former actor and a ballroom dancer, and Lancashire’s bishop said he was “delighted” the priests and deacons included both men and women.
Jane Atkinson, 48, was ordained and will serve Kirkham St Michael’s.
She said: “I don’t believe (getting ordained) was a decision that I made.
“I have just tried to be faithful and respond to what I felt God was calling me to do.”
Jane, who is still employed as a civil servant and will be a self-supporting minister, said in her spare time she enjoyed “pottering in the garden” with her husband, and also ballroom dancing lessons.
Among other priests appointed was James Gwyn-Thomas, 32, who serves St Andrew’s Church in Leyland, and specifically Buckshaw Village Church.
Before entering the ministry, he trained as an actor and spent time working in a Christian theatre company.
Calum Crombie, 33, who serves at Preston Prison, was also ordained.
Judith Kirkham, who serves at Pilling St John the Baptist was ordained priest, and Pauline Frances Taylor, who will serve at St John the Baptist Broughton, was ordained deacon.
A total of 16 ordinands took part in the services at the weekend.
Bishop Julian said: “They were wonderful events and, as a strong supporter of women clergy who had promised to introduce a change in the previous diocesan pattern when first appointed to the role of diocesan bishop last year, I was delighted to be able to ordain both women and men priests and deacons.
“They have all worked hard to reach this point and we give thanks to God for their calling.
“I hope that our diocese will be a positive example for the whole Church of England in the way in which it upholds and encourages women clergy whilst, very importantly, continuing to respect and honour all those who are in conscience unable to accept their priestly ministry.”
A total of 10 priests were ordained at Blackburn Cathedral on Saturday, and six candidates were ordained as deacons at another service on Sunday.
The ordinands this year have a wide variety of backgrounds including a lecturer in medical physics, several teachers, a hairdresser, a health club manager and a former policeman.