THE Venerable Judith Rose, one of the Church of England's highest-ranking women priests, is to step down as Archdeacon of Tonbridge.
The Ven Rose was appointed Archdeacon of Tonbridge in 1996, becoming the first woman to hold the role. Only three other women have since been promoted to archdeacon.
In the post, she has worked closely with the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, supporting churches in Tonbridge, West Malling, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks.
Her retirement, expected in the early autumn, follows a ground-breaking career as a woman in the Church. She was among the first women to be ordained a deacon in 1987, an achievement which was repeated when she became a priest in 1994.
The Ven Rose, of Blackhurst Lane, Tunbridge Wells, helped draw up consultation documents ahead of the Church of England's continuing debate about whether to ordain women bishops. For more than 20 years she was a member of the General Synod, the Church's equivalent to Parliament.
Miss Rose, who is retiring to Somerset, said: "I will always remain grateful to the many friends and colleagues with whom I have worked over the years and to those who have given me the opportunities and privilege to serve God and his Church."
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