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Fully and truly ourselves

To mark International Women’s Day 2023, we’re celebrating the lay and ordained women in the Diocese of Oxford and their invaluable contribution to the life of the Church.

The Revd Laura Wheatley Downs has been the Vicar of Crowthorne in Berkshire since October 2022, and alongside busy parish life, Laura is a mum and PhD student. Laura has a passion for social justice and inclusion, her research explores the relationship between trauma-induced shame and reconciliation from a theological perspective.

Laura was ordained in 2019 and completed ordination training at Trinity College, Bristol, where she served her curacy in Portishead, in the Diocese of Bath and Wells. Prior to a call to ordination, Laura was a Licensed Lay Minister working with children and young people, University Chaplaincy, and Fresh Expressions in Ilford, Banbury, and Shrewsbury.

Laura has been involved in youth ministry from the age of 16, she talks about the influence of two female Baptist ministers in her teenage years and the impact they had on her calling to ordination:

“I grew up surrounded by these women who served God out of themselves, knew who they were despite the occasional opposition, who used their creativity and their God-given gifts to serve and constantly sought to build up others in their ministry. I felt incredibly blessed to have these two female ministers who were encouraging me and giving me opportunities from a young age to speak publicly, pray and lead worship.”

Speaking about the role of women in the Church and what she would say to encourage other women in the Church, Laura said:

“We’ve had a far bigger role than we’d like to admit, when we look through scripture Women are there and play a pivotal role in telling God’s story…Women have had a huge role, but we’ve not always had our eyes open to see what they’re doing.”

“Women are growing into who they are as women and leaders and seeing the different gifts they have to offer. When we bring those gifts, they’re sometimes received warmly and sometimes not at all.

“When women are truly and wholly just themselves, just as they are that is when we offer that real gift…the Church needs you; we offer a brilliant gift to those around us when we are fully and truly ourselves.”

Watch the full interview with Laura about her faith, ministry, research, and the role of women in the Church:

Page last updated: Tuesday 7th March 2023 4:48 PM
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