The Bishop’s Blouse
Posted November 20, 2012on:
I pulled on my favorite purple sweater this morning in solidarity with my Anglican brothers and sisters in England where the General Synod voted on a measure to admit women to the episcopate.
I was shocked when I glanced at my newsfeed while munching my lunch and learned that the measure failed, stalled effectively by lay votes. We mostly knew how the clergy and bishops would vote, but the lay people made the news this afternoon.
I snuck more glances to check the reaction from women clergy, female ordinands training in seminary, my American women friends who are Episcopal Priests, my British friends who are Church of England Priests…
Ugh. The pain. Wow.
I do know some of this gut-wrenching pain. Questioning my growed-up-in church’s teachings on women’s role in ministry and the church opened up my mind to eventually consider the questions offered by the Reformation, and it was conversations with an American Episcopal Bishop (who was key in pushing for ordination reform ) that eventually led me inside a denomination that baptized women and admitted them to all levels of Holy Orders. I eventually fell in with a bunch of rowdy Evangelical and/or Charismatic Low Church Episcopalians who affirm women’s ministries and the call to ordination. I am one of them now. Still, there are certain women serving in the Episcopate in my church who consistently drive me back to the Bible because I question the content of their teaching. Is there anything in what they are saying that rings true with my understanding of Scripture? This discernment happens with the male bishops’ preaching and teaching, too. I am an equal opportunity lay discerner.
So what next, C of E? I mentioned the pain I noted; I saw Tweets calling for dissent and leaving… as if the whole church was against women… that Britain would crumble because the members of the church voted with one sexist discriminatory voice.
Consider this: I think, that unlike other churches with a top-down structure, that God will work with all of the members of the Church to get this call-to-ministry done right, to hurt the least amount of people in the process of radical change, even if there is a “no” vote now. The evangelical charismatic in me sees God’s Holy Spirit at work in this surprising no, even though I live across the Atlantic divide. It’s not a final no, it’s a no, not yet, but eventually.
I think, for as many reasons why a yes vote could’ve worked with God’s grace active through the church, God’s grace will be equally active in this period of continued questioning and listening, not just to internal voices but from world Anglican voices as well.
I think too, that nearly five hundred years on from the Anglican Communion’s birth through the Protestant Reformation in England, it might be high time for another movement of reform in the churches conceived both in high-minded holy zeal and human sin. Will anyone pray with me, “Come Holy Spirit?”