The Dean of Canterbury writes:
THE Revd Pamela LLoyd, who died on 25 September, less than a month short of her 90th birthday, was a pioneer in women’s ministry. Her life and her own ministry paved the way for the acceptance of women’s ministry today.
Speaking in 1978, when the vote for the ordination of women had been lost in the General Synod’s House of Clergy, she said: “I have far greater faith in God than in the clergymen of the Synod. I believe that if God wants women to be priests, God will have them as priests. I do not know how it will happen, but I know it will happen.”
Pamela Bampton was born on 20 October 1925. Her father was a civil engineer, holding the rank of Colonel in the British Army in India, but Pamela was born in London and came back to England for her education, enduring long journeys by boat and often staying with other families in holiday time.
The Second World War was the first of three events that radically altered the course of her life. She found herself in the headquarters of the Special Operations Executive (or SOE) with its highly secret business of dropping agents behind enemy lines.
The second life-changing event came from the fact that Pamela worshipped at Holy Trinity, Brompton, where, at the evening service, she came under the influence of Canon Bryan Green and underwent a powerful conversion experience. She wrote of this experience: “I can feel the power and the strength of the Holy Spirit. I have never been so happy and contented in all my life.”
She informed her parents that she would not be returning to India and she began a journey that was to lead her to being selected for training as a deaconess. She worked as a medical secretary; then with the Oxford Pastorate; and then as assistant to Ronald Hunt, Vicar of Malvern.
Pamela completed her training at Gilmore House, Clapham Common, but at the same time the third life-changing event occurred, which was that she fell in love with Robert LLoyd, assistant curate at Holy Trinity, Clapham, and accepted his proposal of marriage. As she left Gilmore House, she was told that she would never work for the Church of England and must now fulfil her vocation as a wife and mother. Robert was required to compensate the college by paying it a third of a year’s stipend.
Pamela achieved much in her life, but being a wife and a mother was one of those achievements. She produced four sons, two of whom are now priests themselves, supported Robert in his ministry, and created a home, wherever the family went.
Besides bringing up four sons, Pamela began to develop a ministry of her own, outside the structures of the Church. She trained as a counsellor, and for many years worked with the Marriage Guidance Council (now Relate). She developed her skills of listening and her experience of working with broken people from all walks of life.
She came to Canterbury Cathedral to work as the personal assistant to the manager of the Gift Shop. When he retired, the cathedral wanted to develop its merchandising in one direction, and Pamela wanted to go in another. So she moved on, and bought Conquest House in Palace Street, which she ran as a very successful gift shop for years. She gave the profits from the business to the diocese, to be used for the care of clergy.
But the call to ministry never left her. Four times during her life she came into Canterbury Cathedral to be commissioned or ordained by four different Archbishops: Ramsey commissioned her as a parish worker; Coggan licensed her as a deaconess; Runcie ordained her as a deacon; and Carey as a priest. Who knows? If the sands of time had not run out, she might have come back a fifth time.
She was never ambitious for advancement in the Church, but on one occasion temptation got the better of her. She was in the Old Palace, on the eve of her admission to the order of deaconesses. She went up to her room that night and found, somewhat to her surprise, that it was also being used as Donald Coggan’s robing room. Sadly, it was before the days of mobiles phones and selfies, but there was the archiepiscopal mitre, and there was a mirror, and, yes, it did fit.
From 1976 to 1985, she worked at All Saints’, Canterbury. Her Vicar, David Matthiae, said of her: “I would always give her the most challenging families to visit in the parish, and with no hesitation she would whizz off on her bicycle to see them.” She also, at different times, exercised a ministry in some of the local hospitals and at the prison.
Her preaching ministry had begun at the age of 18, and she went on to preach at such places as Downing College, Cambridge, Lincoln Theological College, and Bedgbury Park School, besides being the first woman to preside regularly at the mid-week eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral.
Her early experience of spirituality and one-to-one counselling gave rise to a lifetime of ministry to individuals. She helped to lead pilgrimages, and skilfully led many different prayer and study groups.
From 1995 until almost the end of her life, she was a regular and active member of the congregation of Canterbury Cathedral, and she and Robert engendered much love and affection. After Robert’s death two years ago, Pamela’s health began to fail, but she never lost her interest in all that was going on around her, or her cheerful courage as she became increasingly less mobile. Happily, she lived to see the consecration of women as bishops and retained a lively memory of every step that it had taken to reach that moment right to the end.