One of first women priests retires after 21 years

The Rev Gill Mack and her lay reader husband, Gerald.
The Rev Gill Mack and her lay reader husband, Gerald.

A former midwife, who became one of the first women to be ordained as a priest, has said a sad farewell to the Ribble Valley parish she has served for the past decade.

The Rev Gill Mack came to St John’s, Hurst Green and All Hallows, Mitton, as a temporary measure with her husband, lay preacher Gerald, from their native Kent. But it became the home they love and where they will remain in retirement.

Rev Mack, who is 65, said: “When we told people we were moving up North people asked us why as they had this idea of the area being full of back to back houses.

“But the Ribble Valley is stunning, one of God’s best kept secrets I would say.’’

The couple, who are retiring to Longridge, wanted to remain here close to the many friends they have made over the years.

Before coming up North Rev Mack served at 12 churches, mainly in Kent. Although she loved her career as a midwife she felt that God was calling her to the church to become a spiritual midwife. She became a deacon in 1987 and was one of the first female ordained priests in 1994.

The couple, who have two sons, are planning to relax for the first six months of their retirement before putting their plans into action for travel and becoming authors.

Rev Mack said: “We both have plans to write a book each and Gerald also writes poetry.’’

Over the past 10 years the couple have been part of big changes at St John’s including the organ renovation and launch of an eco loo. The church was packed to capcacity for their farewell service and the popular couple were inundated with cards and gifts.

The couple have already started their retirement in style with a tour of Scotland by steam train.