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There is no limit to what you can do

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.

Dr Anna Thomas-Betts MBE has served in many lay roles in the Diocese of Oxford including as a member of the Diocesan Synod, Bishop’s Council, and lay roles in her local parish. Anna has taken on multiple roles in the national church including as a member of the General Synod, the Mission and Public Affairs Council, and the Council for Christian Unity. In addition, Anna was Chair of the Independent Monitoring Board at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre for over 10 years and served as a member of the National Council of IMBs for six years.

In her professional life, Anna was a Geophysicist at Imperial College, London, for over 35 years. In retirement, she has taken on the role of editor of the community magazine, Around Langley, as well as many other lay roles.  

Anna’s family was deeply committed to ecumenism, working sacrificially on ecumenical projects and for the formation of the Church of South India. So the desire for Christian unity is ingrained in her. Anna is also passionate about interfaith relations and her own background growing up in South India has influenced her longing for good interfaith relations in this country:

“The first 21 years of my life were spent in Kerala, South India…home to roughly equal numbers of Hindus, Christians and Muslims… We grew up as equals, celebrating each other’s festivals and respecting each other – and lived in peace even when the partition massacres were going on in Pakistan and North India.”

Whilst a member of the General Synod from the 1990s to 2015, Anna saw the passing of the vote on the ordination of women to the priesthood and the Women in the Episcopate Act. Speaking about the role of women in the Church, Anna encourages other women to step into roles they feel called to:

What is Church, Christ’s body on earth, if it didn’t include everyone and value everyone. I am totally committed to the principle of women, actually everyone, rightfully taking up a position in the church that they feel called to, from cleaning the church to becoming an Archbishop.”

“There should be freedom, encouragement, and invitation to everyone to participate in Church life. Don’t be diffident about taking up a role in Church life, there is no limit to what you can do…I have been content to be a lay woman, and indeed proud, to be lay. It has been a great privilege to be able to work at various levels within the church.”

Watch the full interview with Dr Anna Thomas-Betts:

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