By Mark Brolly
9 December 2021
ONE of Melbourne’s first women to be ordained is set to retire on Christmas Eve.
The Reverend Clem Taplin will finish her role as chaplain to the Anglican Centre after two years.
Ms Taplin was ordained a deacon in 1989 and priested three years later, working as a deacon in Mornington and Mount Martha, and as a priest in Vermont South, Mt Waverley and Chadstone, and Eltham.
She is the youngest daughter of Sir Frank Woods, Archbishop of Melbourne from 1957 to 1977, and his wife Lady Jean Woods.
“I was the first ordained woman on the Mornington Peninsula and there were a number of retired clergy, several of whom were not in favour of the ordination of women. They were very gracious, they didn’t actually tell me until later,” Ms Taplin said.
“I can remember them … saying: ‘Clem, I see now, it’s no different.’”
Ms Taplin said her chaplaincy at the Anglican Centre had been “a humbling ministry”, and that it was a privilege to be alongside staff during some turbulent years. These included the centre’s move back to 209 Flinders Lane in 2018 after four years next to St James’ Old Cathedral in West Melbourne, and the demands of working remotely during the pandemic of 2020 and 2021.
Ms Taplin is looking forward to continuing her spiritual direction ministry and her link with the Brotherhood of St Laurence, collecting her mother’s spiritual writings and sketches and exploring Kakadu and the Kimberley in a sustainable manner. She also plans to fit in some “leisurely coffees” and seize the chance to get fitter.