Thursday, August 07, 2008
Vision, Prayer, Projects and Dreams
One of the really wonderful things about Lambeth was the opportunity to network internationally.
Herb Gunn took this picture of me and Christina Rees, president of WATCH (Women and the Church), the UK equivalent of The Episcopal Women's Caucus, while we were at Lambeth.
Christina and I were "housemates" - sharing student housing with four other women who were part of the "Inclusive Church Network."
Christina is originally from Long Island but married a wonderful British bloke and has been living for the last two decades or so in England. Her accent is an interesting amalgam of "lung island" and Coventry (if you can imagine such a thing). Sometimes, listening to her just flat out made me giggle. Indeed, one of the most endearing things about Christina is that sometimes, she laughs right out loud about herself.
Christina and I shared a vision, a prayer, a project and more than a few hopes and dreams.
Our vision is simple but a challenge, given that we are reminded that the Anglican Communion is still in a "period of reception" of the "innovation" of the ordination of women. (Yes, I know, but it's true. Swear to God.)
So, our vision is that by Lambeth 2018 there will be women in all ordained orders in all provinces.
Yes, you heard me: By 2018, there will be women in all ordained orders in all provinces.
That is, no doubt, a tall order, given the fact that sexism and male privilege are still very much alive, even in England.
If you followed anything of the process for the British Synod vote to allow the appointment of women to the episcopacy (in the CofE, bishops are appointed,not elected), you understand that the process of accommodation of Anglo-Catholics might take a bit of a long haul.
Even so, I think our prayer is even more of a challenge than our vision:
That the women who are ordained, elected or appointed to the councils and corridors of institutional power and authority will be vehicles of the change and transformation necessary for the church to have greater integrity and authenticity as the Body of Christ.
We're talking systemic change here, not just changing the faces at the top. That will require lots and lots and lots of prayer.
In terms of projects, we are hoping for exchanges in pulpit, altar and See. That is, we are hoping that ordained women in all the provinces and from every continent will have an opportunity to have the experience of women preaching, presiding and leading.
We're hoping that women will be invited to exchange pulpits and altars with their male counterparts in places where the ordination or consecration of women is not yet allowed.
We're also hoping that women who are bishops might be able to exchange "sees" for a time with their brothers where women are not yet allowed to the episcopacy, so that folks get a chance to 'vive la difference'!
We suspect that, once a male bishop gets to experience a diocese where the leadership of women is as natural as breathing, he might go back to his province and become an advocate for change and transformation.
We trust that the experience of women in authority will help to change hearts and minds and we are committed to having our organizations facilitate that exchange of experiences.
Finally, we have some common, shared hopes, dreams and prayers:
We hope and pray that our young children and young adults will continue to be nurtured and challenged to grow more and more into the full stature of Christ.
We dream of a church in which they will have enough support and love to be able to take the risks of faith which the once and future church will need if it is to be relevant in the lives of her people.
We hope and pray that our church will formally repent of the sins of sexism as a manifestation of prejudice and patriarchy as a system of oppression.
We share a common dream that we might inspire our church to dismantle patriarchy and combat sexism where ever it is made manifest. We dream of an end to domestic violence and the rape or women and children as a weapon of war. We are convinced that once sexism is dismantled, the dismantling of the sin of heterosexism will soon follow.
Finally, we hope and pray that we can grow more fully into relationship with each other, despite the geographical boundaries that separate us.
We dream of a time when we might have increased opportunities to share our passion for the gospel, as well as more occasions to share our individual faith stories and the myriad of ways in which Jesus is alive in our lives, calling us to our various vocations, ministries and mission.
And, you thought Lambeth was just about bishops!