Saturday, 24 September 2011

Transformations: Theology and Experience of Women’s Ministry

Updated again Wednesday evening

The Archbishop of Canterbury hosted a day conference at Lambeth Palace entitled ‘Transformations: Theology and Experience of Women’s Ministry’. The conference was intended to allow honest reflection on the lived experience of women as priests. It is now over 17 years since women were first ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England.

See this Church Times report: Meeting heralds new era for episcopacy

THE House of Bishops must be ready for a change of culture now, before the final vote on accepting women into the episcopate, Dr Williams heard on Monday.

A day-long conference was hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace on Monday, after discussions with groups such as Women and the Church (WATCH), and the women Deans, Archdeacons, and Residentiary Canons group (DARC).

The day was reflective and wide-ranging in its discussions, said the Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly, the Revd Lucy Winkett. “People talked about issues like clergy couples and flexible working, and the impact on a priest’s vocation — all issues that have been highlighted by the ordination of women. “But we talked more about what it meant to be a priest in a modern age. There was a general feeling that priesthood has been bureaucratised. “There will be a great culture change for the House of Bishops if women are made bishops, and there was a strong feeling that it would be healthy for more than one woman to be appointed as a bishop at first.”

And this press release from WATCH (Women and the Church):

Press Release Wednesday 22 September 2011

Lambeth Palace Conference: Experience of Women’s Ministry
Transformations: Theology and Experience

Archbishop Rowan yesterday hosted a day conference at Lambeth Palace entitled ‘Transformations: Theology and Experience of Women’s Ministry’. The conference was intended to allow honest reflection on the lived experience of women as priests. It is now over 17 years since women were first ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England.

Participants from a wide range of experience in the Church of England were invited to discuss a wide range of issues and the conference was attended by two visiting Anglican bishops, The Right Reverend Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of El Camino Real, California and The Right Reverend Kay Goldsworthy, Bishop of Perth, Western Australia.

Bishop Mary gave the keynote address in which she spoke about different models of exercising power and her experience of building of good relationships with parishes that did not support the ordination of women. She counselled the conference that dealing with difference by building legal walls divides the Church and prevents healing of differences from happening.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said, ‘The Lambeth day provided much needed space for reflection and for celebration. We look forward to taking the conversations forward and seeing what will emerge in the longer term from this welcomed initiative. We are very grateful to Archbishop Rowan for being so generous with his time’

Tuesday Update

More reports of the conference are now available on the Lambeth Palace site, see Archbishop hosts conference on women’s ministry which includes the full transcripts of:

Audio recordings of each of these can also be downloaded from the top right of the page.

Wednesday update

ENS has published this further article by Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves In England, role of women debate continues.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 24 September 2011 at 3:16pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Surely, this must be an historic First for the ramparts of Lambeth Palace: where Women Bishops from other parts of the Anglican Communion were allowed to address meetings of Women Leaders on their experience of the episcopate in their own Churches.

Also, apparently, the ABC was present in the congregation when a Woman Bishop presided at the assembly Eucharist. Surely that must be a first?
I wonder if she was allowed to wear her mitre?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 25 September 2011 at 7:50am BST

Fr.Ron, Bishop Mary is an unusually articulate and compassionate person. She and the Bishops of Gloucester and Western Tanganyika met after 2008 Lambeth and covenanted to form a 3-way diocesan partnership to explore and live with very real differences. The CofE blogsites have carried much of this ongoing 'pilgrimage of grace' as they call it.
This year she co-authored with Bishop Perham 'The Hospitality of God' which has been well received. I know that she has been wearing her mitre in C of E dioceses. More to the point a bit of parochial pride, since she is a product of my last parish in Miami, prior to my rectorship. I watched her move from parish rector to Archdeacon to Bishop of a diocese seeking healing and restoration after a major walkout of dissenters led by the previous bishop.

Posted by: Bob McCloskey on Monday, 26 September 2011 at 3:01pm BST

Thank you Bob For your comment. I have watched with interest the reports of the 'Pilgrimage of Grace', and seen Grace indeed at work with the Bishops, especially Bishop Mary and Bishop Perham

We need such Bishops in our church, and I for one would be more than happy to see the Bishop of Gloucester becoming our next Archbishop. He and Bishop of Liverpool stand out as persons of honesty, and spirituality.

Tongue in cheek I ask when will the ABC call a conference of senior LGBT clergy to a day conference at Lambeth. It is the logical progression following the female conference. ABC must know there are many Bishops , Deans etc who could speak honestly in the sacred precincts of Lambeth

Fr John

Posted by: Fr John on Monday, 26 September 2011 at 3:55pm BST

As a lay member of the Diocese of El Camino Real, let me echo Bob McCloskey's comments. Bishop Mary is manifestly gifted, and as a gifted HUMAN BEING she is both witness and leader in the movement beyond gender barriers.

Lou Poulain
Sunnyvale CA
Diocese of El Camino Real, TEC

Posted by: Lou Poulain on Monday, 26 September 2011 at 4:52pm BST

'Pilgrimage of Grace' - sounds a wonderful idea!

After the Lambeth Palace meeting, one prays for a greater witness for Bishop Mary within the Church at large. No doubt the experience of her and Bishop Kay Goldsworthy, from the Australian Diocese of Perth (Australia), - together with the indomitable Lucy Winkett, Rector of St. Jamess, Picadilly, and Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH, - would have greatly heartened the women of our Churches who feel called by God into leadership in the Communion.

"Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church!"

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 12:16am BST

Thank you Fr. John and Lou for your comments. I was licensed to officiate and preach in the Diocese of Gloucester during my wife and my ownership of a seasonal and retirement cottage for 20 years in the Cotswold. [I was also a staff officer for George Carey at Lambeth '98 but that was another and sad story.] It seems to me Fr. John that at least one LGBT bishop-elect experienced the sacred precincts of Lambeth and its machinations. Of course now as a respected Dean, recently deprived of consideration for another see, he might be ambivalent about the conference which you propose - with good reason [tongue in cheek again].

Posted by: Bob McCloskey on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 2:19am BST

Would it not be a great step forward if the current Archbishop of Canterbury suggested a woman be considered as a serious candidate for the next Archbishop of Canterbury? I realize this can't happen until your next phase of Synod votes but this to me would be a truly great and glorious moment for Christianity in general and women in particular.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:00am BST

The Bishop of El Camino Real, alas, has not been a full supporter of marriage equality or LGBT equality! During the brief period when same-sex couples were allowed to marry in the State of California (May-November 2008) she would not authorize priests to sign a civil marriage license nor use the Book of Common Prayer for a blessing. Alternative prayers (separate and unequal) were to be used.

LGBTs may be the bargaining chips she uses in negotiating with bishops in the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Gary Paul Gilbert


Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 5:11am BST

Gary Paul,

Thank you for the link, and I appreciated the comments.

It is only in the last two years that the Church of England Commissioners have recognised Civil Partnership for pension and other purposes.

Explored the link to Baseball, having attended match in Baltimore two Saturdays ago, after cruise from Baltimore up the east coat to Halifax and back,

Every good wish to you,

Fr John

Posted by: Fr John on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 4:57pm BST

Gary: A careful reading of the sites you mention clearly does indicate Bishop Mary's position at the time they were released. I don't know that things have changed since for her. She is not where I am in this matter nor where my LGBT clergy associates in my parishes are - nor where any of my LGBT friends, lay and clergy are. Yet, I know that she is an earnest and astute person in her discernment and decision-making.

One of the things which should be known is that she has an evangelical orientation, graduated from St. John's, Auckland, and whenever I have heard her preach, she has not used notes nor script. [Despite her home parish, St.Stephen's, Coconut Grove, Miami, at one time being the Anglo-Catholic flagship of the South.] My sense is that she leans in a broad church tradition. I would not like to think that her lay and clergy friends would see her using them as bargaining chips in any context. Just my thoughts.

Posted by: Bob McCloskey on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 7:26pm BST

We are a diverse chunk of the Body of Christ here in the Diocese of El Camino Real. I believe that foremost in Bishop Mary's mind and heart is the desire to be EVERYBODY'S bishop. I am sure she doesn't expect us all to be in agreement all of the time, but she wants all to feel welcomed at the table, all of the time. I can attest from direct personal knowledge that this diocese is a welcoming and affirming environment for LGBT folk, including partnered clergy.

Sunnyvale CA
Diocese of El Camino Real, TEC

Posted by: Lou Poulain on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 8:12pm BST

Thanks, Lou, for your informative contribution here. I had not realised that Bishop Mary was an alumnus of St. John's Theological College, in Auckland, NZ. However, that is a 'broad spectrum' institution and, as part of ACANZP, is moving towards a graduated acceptance of the LGBT cause in the Church.

Perhaps Bishop Mary has been tailoring her output to meet a growing concern of the whole Communion for the claims of the LGBT constituency. Perhaps the idea of 'slowly but surely' - like Archbishop Rowan Williams - is her preferred tactic.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 at 10:59pm BST

Personally, I always thought that Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves's decision not to attend the consecration of her friend Mary Glasspool in order to preserve the three way link with Gloucester and Western Tanganyka one of the more depressing decisions of recent years. It was the moral equivalent of Rowan's decision not to lay hands on Jeffrey John.

There can be no question about whether Mary Gray-Reeves uses lesbian and gay people as bargaining chips. She has done so and done so very openly.

Perhaps with her high profile address at Lambeth Palace she has had her reward.

I rather think that in the reign of God that Jesus seemed to be trying to persuade us to usher in, things might be rather different.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 10:23am BST

Thank you Kelvin for your comments. It is again confusing that two folk in Episcopal orders cannot get their act together, and make their actions truthful to what they have said on the issue of LGBT people. If they had had the courage of their thoughts into action we would not have still the double talk from them both, and in consequence from other weak willed Bishops. Afraid of their own shadows, and afraid to listen to the Spirit, as apposed to their political advisors.
Mary cannot lay hands on her sisters, but only lunch with them. The ABC can call Jeffrey his friend, but again not lay hands on him.
No wonder we are in a muddle!

Fr John

Posted by: Fr John on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 4:14pm BST

With friends such as Mary Gray-Reeves, who needs enemies? Her less than accepting attitude toward lesbians, bisexuals, gays, and transgenders shows how identity politics sometimes divides groups rather than advancing equality for all. On the issue of women, the Bishop of El Camino Real is liberal but her advocacy comes at the expense of another group: LGBTs. A more consistent approach would be to advocate for equal rights for all, regardless of gender, marital status, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, language, etc.

She probably should be back in California doing her work in her diocese and networking with other California dioceses rather than politicking in Canterbury. It is thoroughly unacceptable that she refused to attend the consecration of Mary Glasspool. Los Angeles is closer to El Camino Real than Canterbury.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 8:19pm BST

OK Folks - I am timing out on this one. A person I know and respect and with whom I strongly disagree on the issue, is now the object of much opinion by people who admittedly have never met nor discussed the issue of LGBT equality and respect with her.
I have been active in supporting the LGBT community in the church and indeed ignored the banning of its representation at Lambeth '98 - violating specific orders from the top not to allow any LGBT groups to have space in the Market Place, nor on the schedule of elective programs.
Bottom line for me is that if people who disagree can not engage each other in candor, then we will continue to talk past each other. Colin Coward, IMHO offers a more productive path.

Posted by: Bob McCloskey on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 at 9:41pm BST

Leaders ought to be publicly accountable for their actions. This issue goes beyond gay rights and is ultimately about fairness and equality, values which many secular leaders have done a better job upholding than have religious leaders.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Thursday, 29 September 2011 at 1:47am BST

This is what I have learned to expect from 'liberal bishops and of course, archbishop.'

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 29 September 2011 at 12:31pm BST

Once one gets the miter, liberal and conservative no longer apply - the position becomes solely pro-bishop.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 6 October 2011 at 9:59am BST
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