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In 1994, women were admitted to the priesthood of the Church of England for the first time; 25 years later, it is impossible to imagine life without them. For Here Am I, a photographic celebration of this anniversary year commissioned by the Bishop of Southwark, award-winning photographer Jim Grover has followed 12 very different female priests in the Diocese, to capture a flavour of the rich diversity of women’s ministry.
Among Grover’s subjects are Susie Simpson, a prison chaplain seeking to make a difference at the Isis young offenders’ institution; Mae Christie, a young parish priest in Tooting who grew up in the southern United States and who came to the UK in 2011 specifically to train for the Church; Mary Seller, an assistant priest living in Surrey who has combined her ministry with a 54-year career in genetics at King’s College London; and Joyce Forbes, a member of the ‘Windrush’ generation whose lifetime’s service has included 40 years as a nursery nurse and social worker, as well as her role as a part-time self-supporting minister
Of the many hundreds of photographs that Grover took during the eight-month project, he has chosen six for each woman, to represent key moments in their life, ministry and personal faith. He has also recorded in-depth interviews with each of his subjects, which will be available at the gallery to read in full. Together they form an extraordinary opportunity to explore the female perspective on Church leadership.
This is the third of Grover’s photo-stories to be exhibited at gallery@oxo, and follows last year’s acclaimed Windrush exhibition.