Friday, 18 July 2014

Women priests in Australia

Muriel Porter reports in the Brisbane Times that Conservative Anglicans have women priests in their sights.

…Australian Anglicans need not be complacent, however. The stark reality is that if votes even for women priests were now required in the Anglican Church here, let alone for women bishops, it is highly likely they would not succeed.

That was the take home message from our own General Synod held earlier this month in Adelaide. Mercifully, votes for women were not on the agenda at that meeting.

Over the 22 years since women priests were approved in Australia, the dominance of the conservative Diocese of Sydney has grown exponentially. And it has become even more conservative…

So could we see the unthinkable happen in this country, the legislation for women priests repealed? It happened in the Presbyterian Church. Could it happen here, even though there are now close to 500 women priests in Australia? It is believed some conservatives have a repeal in their sights…

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 10:51am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Church of Australia
Comments

Presbyterians in Australia did indeed go back on having ordained women presbyters but as I remember there were only two or three at the time (in NSW). One was Rev Theadora Hobbs, mother of Rev Christopher Hobbs. Another was Rev Dr Margaret Yee who moved to Oxford.

Posted by: Jenny Petersen on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 11:59am BST

Archbishop Vanags also reversed the policy in his Latvian Church. In part due to this leadership his Church has remained as an observer within the Porvoo group for over 20 years.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 12:06pm BST

So, what is the Holy Spirit saying to the Church in Australia?

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 12:39pm BST

Friends in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland tell me it's not impossible that they will rescind the ordination of women over the next 10-15 years. Remarkable, because they were an early ordainer of women. The new principal of their theological college is opposed to the ordination of women.

Ironically, given that it has just consecrated its first women bishop, I'm not entirely convinced C of I General Synod would find a two-thirds majority in all three Houses 25 years after the original vote, although perhaps I'm being too pessimistic.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 2:49pm BST

The conservative evangelical counter-revolution is not to be underestimated. I've seen a diocese devolve from liberal catholic to conservative evangelical in the course of one episcopate - ironically a liberal catholic (emphasis on liberal). As said bishop observed, "As long as conservative evangelicals are more willing to toil for poor pay, ..."

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 6:25pm BST

From the article in the Brisbane Times "Their opposition is based on a claim that the Bible requires women to submit to their husbands in marriage and to male leaders in the church",

Indeed the bible does say these kinds of things. I Timothy 2:12 is an example. However, we simply have to say that we are no longer prepared to make policy decisions based simply on something that is "in the bible". The NT is a product of the Church, the Church is not a product of it. A number of things "in the bible" are obsolete, even destructive. We need to say, yes its in the bible, but we are setting it aside. Every time a church decides to ordain or commission a woman to any office, its is in effect saying, bible verses notwithstanding, this is what we believe to be just and important--and that's a good thing.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 6:38pm BST

The Presbyterian Church in Australia is a rump that refused to merge in 1977 with the Methodist and Congregational churches to form the Uniting Church of Australia. Most of its ministers are now trained at Moore College in the Sydney Anglican Diocese. "Nuff said"
All my friends who were Presbyterian in their youth are now members of the Uniting Church.
And Fr David, In the 65 years I lived within the Sydney Diocese I saw very little evidence of the Holy Spirit at work, just the political machinations of pompous, mysogynous, hate filled men.

Posted by: Brian Ralph on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 8:29pm BST

The Australian Anglican Church constitution, makes each diocese autonomous. Each diocese has to validate any legislation passed by the Australian General Synod. This was a safeguard, Sydney insisted on.

So it works both ways..all the dioceses who recognise the ordination of women to the Anglican priesthood and episcopate, can just ignore a Sydney move in Synod.

Posted by: robert Ian Williams on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 9:49pm BST

I honestly believe that if the Aussies were to vote to reject the ordination of women, you'd soon see a new "overseas" province of the Episcopal Church (if asked by the ordained women, and the Anglicans who affirmed God's call to them).

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 2:06am BST

Well, well, well, and here am I, an avid follower of the T. A blog, thinking, on good advice, that the Scriptural male Headship argument has now been "discredited". Well, not in Australia, so it would seem! The Holy Spirit seems to have reasserted this Biblical Doctrine "Down Under"

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 7:23am BST

Evangelicals did well in the Australian General Synod Standing Committee election. A broad range of evangelicals were elected. These include supporters of women ministers, as well as the usual conservative evangelical group. Muriel Porter is disappointed that her group did poorly in the voting.
There is evidence that evangelicals are growing as a proportion of the Australian church, but this election may have been influenced by evangelicals working together and Liberal catholics being less able to do that.

Posted by: John sandeman on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 7:43am BST

"I honestly believe that if the Aussies were to vote to reject the ordination of women, you'd soon see a new "overseas" province of the Episcopal Church"

Oh JCF, I am not eager to go there. "TEC Welcomes You" in the US and in our dioceses in countries that have chosen to be part of TEC, or are through long historic ties (like Haiti). I am not eager to deliberately establish an alternative presence in places like Australia, Nigeria, and Uganda… I don't like it when GAFCON does it for their ends and I wouldn't want us to do it either. Support, fellowship, and prayer, yes. Overseas province? No.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 11:17am BST

I've checked and there were five women ordained as Presbyterian ministers in Australia. Rev Joy Bartholomew still leads St Andrews in Canberra - doing a grand job http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/getting-on-with-the-work-of-god-20120511-1yhsi.html
With respect, I think Muriel Porter's got a bit of a misleading bee in her bonnet.

Posted by: Jenny Petersen on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 1:40pm BST

Have you read the article you posted, Jenny?
"In 1991 the Australian Presbyterian Church reversed its decision for women to be ordained."

"As the only female minister in the Presbyterian Church in Australia, she is obviously disappointed no women can be ordained at present."

It would seem, under present circumstances, when Rev Joy Bartholomew retires, there will no longer be any ordained women working in the Presbyterian Church of Australia and I would guess she is unlikely to gain a position in any other church than St Andrews which she describes as "a bit left-field"
I think, as usual, Muriel Porter is spot on.

Posted by: Brian Ralph on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 9:47pm BST

I'm not eager for this, Cynthia. But if the ordained women ASKED? Would we say no? Give them a stone, instead of bread (Matt 7:9)? [Hopefully, this is just my paranoia talking. The Holy Spirit IS leading the Aussies "into all Truth"---contra FatherDavid!---and there will be no turning back.]

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 1:14am BST

"Well, well, well, and here am I, an avid follower of the T. A blog, thinking, on good advice, that the Scriptural male Headship argument has now been "discredited". Well, not in Australia, so it would seem! The Holy Spirit seems to have reasserted this Biblical Doctrine "Down Under""

Not everything done by a church is the work of the Holy Spirit; sometimes it is the work of human beings who are ignoring the call of the Spirit.

Or are you under the impression that the Crusades and the Inquisition were Spirit-led?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 11:14am BST
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