Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Still quite cross.....

Lots of very good blogging been going on all over the place about what happened at the Church of England's Synod on Tuesday of this week.  I'm going to make the terrible assumption that if you're reading this you know about all that.  That you know how angry and sad it has made many people.

It made me feel angry and sad too. I was shocked by the impact as it happens.

However I continue to be cross - not just because of what happened, but because of many people's ill considered reaction to it.  You know how if you repeat something often enough is like you can make it true? Well the things I am hearing repeated are that this is a crushing blow for women, a tragedy, proof our skills and talents are undervalued by the Church, young women are turning from vocation to ordained ministry in droves because they don't want to be part of a church that doesn't value them.

OK - here goes.
1) Exactly the same number of people (of the same traditions) in the church are opposed to women's ministry today as were on Monday. The vote does not represent a sea change in theology. The Church has not turned on 'us'.
2) the vast majority of the C of E both in Diocesan Synods and at General Synod voted in favour - they appreciate and affirm the priestly ministry of all God's people and that of generations to come.
3) What has been highlighted is both the apathy of those who assumed this would go through without them having to stand for Synod to ensure that, and the flaws of a voting system which allows a vocal minority to carry the day.
4) What was rejected was a piece of legislation - not an individual or a group of people. Many of us were unsure about the legislation if we're honest, we were just sick of going on about it and wanted it sorted sooner rather than later. Perhaps there was insufficient of the discernment of God's will in that position!

This is not a tragedy - there was tragedy for the generations of women who felt God's call and were told they were mad or bad because of it. For my generation there is perhaps 7 years more patience required.  The priestly ministry of women has been affirmed overwhelmingly during this process - and if you look back at where we started, before the Diocesan votes, you may remember we didn't really expect to have come this far this fast. 42 out of 44 was a joyous surprise and still a great place to be working from as we try to listen and work harder.

If you know young women who are challenged by this to turn away from the Church - please don't say "Yes you're right, the Church is terrible" - because that's not true.  It's flawed, but it's trying - that's the Church I value and that I committed myself to at ordination.

6 comments:

Gionatan said...

Hey RevRach :)

Brilliant post and I concur, it's not the institution itself which is terrible but a legislative process within it which is flawed.

Still, it doesn't take away from the disappointment you must rightly be feeling. It's still an unjust society in so very many ways, not just within the church but in wider society. The gap is closing though and rightly so. God Bless.

changingworship said...

You are a wise woman.

Anonymous said...

Hey RevRach :)

Brilliant post and I concur, it's not the institution itself which is terrible but a legislative process within it which is flawed.

Still, it doesn't take away from the disappointment you must rightly be feeling. It's still an unjust society in so very many ways, not just within the church but in wider society. The gap is closing though and rightly so.

God Bless.

Peter Kilburn said...

Unfortunately, whether you like it or not the message that has gone out to the wider, non church going, population is that the Church of England does not value its female Ministers as highly as their male counterparts. Those within the Church may understand that progress has been made and the vote was actually about legislation, the rest will not. Although I no longer attend church and have real doubts about whether I could regard myself as a Christian my sister is a minister in the church so this issue directly affects my family

Rachel F said...

Peter - I know that might be the message the press are enjoying (so much easier than dwelling on recession) - I just think we need to stop colluding with that. I wish people who live in my parish would actually come and ask me what's going on and how I feel instead of making assumptions based on media circus.

Sue Penfold said...

Great post.

And as someone who's been around a bit longer, we've waited quite a long time, and we've made a lot of progress - just not enough.

I can't help thinking about some of the women ordained deacon with me in 1987 - some were over 70 and had spent a lifetime as parish workers or deaconesses. I suspect some didn't see women ordained priest, let alone bishop. For their sake we can't give up now