Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Women's Ordination-that's right, I'm being brave

I've been cleaning this wretched house over and over and over again for the last three days. Every time I make a little bit of progress it gets totally wrecked by the vast hoards of children roving over every available space. I want to take the opportunity to liken my wrecked house to the destruction that is currently taking place in the Anglican Communion. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about (and who are too lazy to click on the link), yesterday the Church of England voted, in Synod, to allow women into the episcopate (that means they're allowed to be bishop) without making any legal provision whatsoever for dissenting bishops, clergy and congregations.

I say this with deep sadness.
Many of you have asked me to talk more about Women's Ordination given my unique and uncomfortable position-I'm a woman, I'm ordained, I am therefore a continuing source of division in the church, a block to better ecumenical relationships with Rome and the Orthodox, a division within Conservative Anglicanism itself. Indeed, when we worship together with our friends and neighbors, Saint Andrew's Anglican down the street, Matt and I make sure that he celebrates, or Tony+ does, so as not to offend those of that congregation who do not believe that my orders are even possible. The finishing of that sentence has perhaps explained to you why I don't talk about it much. Indeed, why I don't even want to articulate the manner of my call. I have gone over it a thousand times in my mind, in prayer, in my heart trying to discover what on earth God is doing with me.

Furthermore, we conservative ordained women in Anglicanism are few and far between. And I can guarantee that we don't all agree with each other on every matter. I don't want, for one second, to compromise or make someone else's ordained life more difficult because of something thoughtless I wrote online while I am trying to work things out or speculate about this issue. Conservative Believing Anglican Women Priests are guaranteed to be criticized from the right (both from Evangelicals because of Scripture and Anglo Catholics because of, well, you probably all know how Anglo Catholics feel) and from the Left for picking the Gospel over the rights of women everywhere. Any careless word can and will be used against us.

To make it even more personal, as many of you know from Stand Firm, Matt is feeling daily more queasy about Women's Ordination in general, though, he assures me, not about me. 'Obviously you're called' he says.
'But' I say, 'if you don't believe that Women should be ordained, don't you think that would have an effect on me personally?'
Well, yes, he can see that. And he is not an inconsistent and illogical person. He is not making a personal exception that suits him (let's face it, I'm a good preacher and sometimes he needs a break). Rather, we have both been struggling and praying and seeking God and crying out for his will.

In light of this, I am going to write up how I came to be called by God to be a priest in his church. I am not going to post it here, but if you would like to read it, you can email me (see the bottom of my profile) and I will send it to you and be more than willing to discuss it on email. This will take me some time because I'm still writing up our day in Galilee and learning how to post slide shows. And, obviously, I should be cleaning my house. When I have it written, I will announce it here.

I am also, very trepidatiously and very carefully, going to try to write what I think God might be doing with Women's Ordination in the church. This also will be slow going because I'm going to write slowly and I'm going to send it to some people before I post it. In the meantime I ask that tonight you pray particularly for the Church of England and for those bishops and priests who have been utterly rejected by their colleagues, and have been essentially told that they are not needed in this church. However any of us feel about it. Trust and faith have been broken, the house is in ruins.


Frair John said...

Provision has been made for them, just not the one they asked for/demanded.

Trust cuts both ways and both GAFCON and the trips to Rome by several leaders of the Anglo-Catholics recently were red flags for the Synod. Someone I know who was on the floor said that the hostility many sensed lies there, in no small part.

Frair John said...

I am also, of course, praying for them. In particular those who may have been poorly served by their leadership.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anne. I appreciate your care and thoughtfulness in approaching this issue and look forward to your thoughts.

And frair john, from much of what I've read about what happened in the Synod yesterday, many seem to agree that that there was a spirit of hostility and politics about the final result, not necessarily a godly spirit.

The Rev. summer gross said...

as a conservative priest who have been in meetings as the only female, I too have been thinking and praying and reading and listening. I'd love to hear more about your calling and how we can pray for eachother. mtrsummer@gmail.com
summer gross

Rosemary said...

I too have been much in thought recently about why I didn't and don't think my calling included ordination. I have made a start and would happily share it with you, but don't want to impose.

BTW, my husband noticed you and your 'Gafcon baby' in Jerusalem!

Jane R said...

Dear Anne, I will keep you in prayer. Know that we can come from different perspectives and still be in the communion of prayer.

Geri said...

Oh, Anne+, I would really appreciate reading about your experience. I have done a complete 180 degree turn on my belief about women's ordination since my joining the Episcopal Church. Having the opportunity to discuss the subject with a truly conservative female priest (an oxymoron in itself) would be wonderful. I will be looking forward to your post that the article is available. I pray for you and your family almost daily (and have for about 8 or 9 months now). You were still pregnant with Gwendolyn when I started including you and Fr. Matt in my prayers. My e-mail address is space_cadet@usapathway.com

tjmcmahon said...

Bless you for being brave enough to stick your neck out. As an old Anglo Catholic, I suppose half my friends reading this will expect me to chop your head off. But while I may have issues over women priests, it has been obvious to me that some women are indeed called to ministry, and perhaps it is the error of the Church not to have created some special honored place for such women, even if it is not the priesthood as such. I have never met you, but I have met Rev. Summer, and I cannot imagine her in any vocation other than ministry in some form. (Nor can I imagine Andrew in any other calling.)
I do not think myself a sufficient theologian to determine whether or not women should be priests. But I am enormously troubled by the way it has been done. The church is supposed to use scripture as its guide, and basis of its arguments. Not the current code of political correctness. Women are indeed equals of men, but we are certainly not identical nor interchangeable.
Whatever final decision is reached on women's ordination by the Gafcon primates, I pray that we all are more charitable with one another than the example this week in the CoE.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I have little hope that you will include me in sharing your perspective about ordination as an orthodox woman, but I only pray that God will soften your heart to know that I would deeply appreciate reading your thoughts. I promise not to make them public but only to take them and ponder them deep in my heart. E M Kaeton at aol dot com.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Might I suggest Alice Linsley as a possible resource for you to contact during this time of discernment?

Rev Dr Mom said...

I am another "revisionist" who would be very interesting in reading your thoughts about your call. I read your blog because I really want to understand where people I disagree with are coming from--and because on the surface at least we have things in common--woman,priest, mother of four, lover of Jesus.

So if you are willing to include me

revdrmom at gmail dot com

Jane R said...

Dear Anne, I would welcome hearing from you at missmayapavlova at gmail dot com if you are willing to share your thoughts.

Elaine said...

When I was a little kid I wanted to be a nun. A strange thing for a cradle Episcopalian to want. But I wanted to spend my life IHS.

My mother, not knowing that there are Episcopalians convents and nuns, freaked out thinking I wanted to become a Catholic. She was raised as one until she utterly rebeled at a tender age. For the rest of my childhood I was drilled in heresy such as Spong taught until I believed only that God exists and I looked everywhere for Him except Christianity. Mercifully, He finally found me.

Three failed marriages later, medically retired from work, with a lot of health issues, I have a lot of regrets that I didn't at least try to follow my childhood desire. But the way life worked out, I don't really know if it was God's will or not. I mean, given what I believed at the time, I could hardly have gone to a convent.

I've never been comfortable with WO, and the fruit I see from it is largely rotten. But my mother saw to it that none of the men we called our priest had any semblence of a calling either; I would take a believing woman priest any day over any of them.

I was abandoned by my first husband with two little kids early on and I ended up in traditional male professions because that's where the decent wages were. But my body paid a heavy toll for it. It definitely wasn't my calling!

There are large numbers of women priests who are no more called to the priesthood than I was called to roofing. But it is their congregations who pay the price.

It's a hard, hard issue, I will pray for you.

Jane R said...

This was very moving. It is still on the front page of the site, will be till early Sunday I think. Then it will go to archive on permalink, which isn't up yet.

eulogos said...

Since I have asked you about this several times you know I want to know what you think even thought you know I will probably disagree.


Jane R said...

The piece to which I referred is now in the permanent archive of Anglicans Online here.

Anonymous said...

Me too, please. kate dot sanderson2 at gmail dot com