OBITUARY: Elizabeth Ayliffe Tipping led the way for women in the Anglican Church, fighting for the inclusion of divorced and single women.
Tipping, who died March 24 in her 100th year, was the first woman to hold multiple positions in the Church of England’s Diocese of Christchurch. She was instrumental in founding the Anglican Women’s Association in 1969, which was a splinter group formed to include divorced and single women.
Tipping was born in Oxford, England, and had four sisters.
“Both of her parents have always stood up for the right of their five daughters to be independent and to make the most of their talents in every way possible,” said her son Simon.
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She married Kiwi Pat Tipping in 1941 while he was in England serving in the Royal Air Force during the early years of World War II.
Marriage to an Air Force man meant life was unpredictable. The couple moved 14 times in their first two years together.
As soon as the war ended, the Tippings packed their bags, boarded a troopship with their two young sons, a baby and a nanny, and moved the RAF base to Singapore for three years.
In 1957 the family decided to return home to New Zealand where Elizabeth Tipping set up an interior design business in Christchurch. She has worked for corporations and individuals, but her career in public service began when she was appointed as a Mothers’ Union delegate to the National Council of Women, later becoming a member of its executive.
Tipping chaired the host committee for the 1965 Christchurch Festival, organizing activities for performers. She then joined the Christchurch Civic Trust, where in 1967 she led the campaign to rehabilitate New Regent St by repairing dilapidated shops and painting the entire street in a dramatic and coordinated color scheme emphasizing the spanish style.
Her contribution to the Anglican Church began in the late 1960s when she attended an annual meeting at St Mary’s parish in Merivale.
“When a vacancy was announced for a parish representative at the diocesan synod, a friend suggested sotto voce that she should put forward her name. She whispered, ‘isn’t it still a man?’ to which her friend replied ‘no more’ and named her,” her son said.
Tipping was elected and spent the next 30 years serving in synod, later serving as the first female member of the Diocesan Standing Committee.
She has also served on the Diocesan Board of Social Services, the Church Assets Trustees, and the City Mission Social Work Sub-Committee. She has served on several national bodies, including the General Synod of the Church of England and the Board of Governors of St John’s Theological College.
Son Simon said that in all of these roles, she was valued for her clear thinking, warmth and ability to bring people together. Her long and extensive service was recognized in 2006 by Bishop David Coles with a special award for national and diocesan church leadership, the same year she wrote her memoir An Unexpected Path.
She became the first diocesan president of the Anglican Women’s Association, which was formed in opposition to World Union of Mothers membership rules to exclude divorced and single women.
Tip took on the task of explaining the benefits of being more inclusive to Mothers Union locals.
“To her, it was so obvious that men and women could and should do exactly what they were good at, regardless of gender, but she had no idea being a warrior or leading a crusade.” , said Simon Tipping.
Coles said it was an honor to speak at Elizabeth Tipping’s funeral.
“She was undoubtedly one of the great tōtara of the forest, one of the taonga, the treasures of our church, not only here but across Aotearoa in New Zealand.”
He said Tipping broke the church’s glass ceiling for lay women.
“She didn’t just break the ceiling, she smashed it. Elizabeth was a wonderful friend and supporter of the clergy in this diocese and beyond. Don’t get me wrong, she also knew how to challenge the clergy when they ignored the voice of the laity.
He said Tipping listens quietly and patiently in meetings before speaking her mind.
She had obvious leadership talent and skills and her life has been a journey of commitment and service – not just on boards and committees, but at the City Mission, aged care and children’s homes. .
President of the Anglican Women’s Association of Christchurch, Judith Mackenzie, said Tipping was a pioneer as a first woman in many of her roles within the Anglican Church.
She was also active in the National Council of Women.
“At her funeral held in the Transitional Cathedral, six former presidents of the Diocesan Association of Anglican Women attended, joining family and friends in thanking a great lay pioneer in the Diocese of Christchurch,” Mackenzie said. .
In her later years, Tipping lived at Holly Lea Nursing Home, and when Mackenzie visited, she spoke fondly of her family members, especially her eight grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. children.
“Elizabeth Tipping was a gracious woman and a pioneering leader who paved the way for many to follow.”