THIS WEEK marked quite the occasion for the Queanbeyan and District Anglican Parish congregation as they welcomed their very first female rector, the venerable Elizabeth Dyke.
Reverend Dyke will lead the local parish as well as act as archdeacon for the Queanbeyan South Monaro and Alpine Region.
Reverend Dyke admits it is unusual to see a female in a senior ministry role but it's something she believes will become a common sight.
"Women are beginning to make much more of an impact in the higher leadership within the Anglican Church which is great to see," she said.
"It is still fairly unusual proportionally but women are making their mark. We have been gifted by God in the same way that men have, we have just as much capability as our male colleagues.
"It's good to see now that we are able to make a contribution through the whole church."
Originally from Yorkshire, Reverend Dyke has been ordained for more than 20 years. it was a vicar at her local church that first encouraged her to become involved in the ministry.
"Once the seed of thought was planted, it didn't go away," she said.
"After a number of years of exploring a vocation and then theological training and college I was ordained in Oxford, England. I ministered for 15 years before coming to Australia."
Reverend Dyke was previously based in Kidman Park, Adelaide and was the archdeacon of Sturt.
She said the challenge of a new area and a larger and diverse parish attracted her to Queanbeyan. She is looking forward to helping shape the new Anglican School to be built in Googong.
"We're in an area that's rapidly expanding with new communities springing up. I want to help those new communities develop, not just as a dormitory, but a place that's alive. Where people can feel they belong and not just somewhere to lay their head and park the car," she said.
"Having a real sense of community is really important to me, here the Anglican Church is definitely making a contribution to the life of the community and I want to be part of that."
Reverend Dyke said her faith is engrained in every part of her life; without it she feels "askew".
"My Christian life gives me meaning and purpose. I've had lots of ups and downs in my life," she said.
"Jesus Christ is the firm bedrock that I've built my life on and when those storms come along, as they do in everybody's life, I've certainly found he's kept me safe through them. I have a deep, abiding joy that I long for other people to share too."