I’m very sad about the death of Margaret Hall, Associate Priest at St Michael’s Amersham. Her working ministry was characteristic of a generation of women called to ordained ministry — Teaching geography and music, then (1978) Accredited Lay Minister (What in the Middle Ages was called a “Lady Worker”, Deaconess (1980), Deacon (1987), Priest (1994). Her ministry gifts were first accredited by a male-led “Board of Women’s Work.” The title sounds completely Harry Enfield, but they seem to have concerned their pretty heads with rather more than ironing and housework. Thirty years ago all sorts of otherwise intelligent people believed that God Created Daughters of Eve mainly to push out babies, do the typing and make the coffee. The brains were an accidental addition. We haven’t quite grown out of this attitude, but today at least the boot’s on the other foot.
Margaret was a sharp, sometimes visionary, critical thinker, whose life was touched, profoundly, by grace. Her ministry had to grow in slow motion, in a Church struggling to learn how to get real about women’s ministry. I’ve never had to serve a church which can’t accept God’s grace in my life merely on grounds of something I was born. For a generation of women called to Priesthood there was always potential embitterment from the context. This drew Margaret back to the heart of what her calling was about, pastorally and sacramentally. She just got on with the job, in Chesham (especially Ashley Green) and Amersham, and thousands will always thank God for her skilled pastoral care, realism and passion for truth and justice, personally expressed and applied. She had a rich and loving home life. Always a genuine team player, she involved herself in Citizens Advice and the Samaritans as well as church ministry. Praying with her last week in hospital, she ministered to me far more than me to her. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.