The Acting Bishop of Exeter, the Rt. Rev’d Jackie Searle, has become the first woman in history to lead the annual Chrism Eucharist at Exeter Cathedral on Maundy Thursday.

The service is a major gathering of clergy and licensed lay ministers from across Devon, during which they renew their ministerial vows. It is an opportunity to thank them for their ministry and faithfulness in serving God and the people in their care.

The word chrism means consecrated oil. During the service, holy oils used for anointing and prayers for healing are blessed by the bishop and distributed to the congregation to take back to their parishes.

Bishop Jackie said “The oil that is blessed at the service will at times be used in public ceremony – at the licensing of clergy, at baptism, at confirmation, at ordination, at a service for healing – and other times in private – at a hospital bedside, in a person’s home as they near the end of their life. Whether public or private, it is always an intimate moment, a God moment, a sacred space.”

Bishop Jackie said: ‘It is my very great privilege to be presiding at this wonderful gathering and it is especially moving to be doing this year as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of women being ordained to the priesthood. I am grateful for all my sisters and brothers in the Diocese of Exeter as we together live out our calling to follow Christ and to serve the people of Devon with joy.’