Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Struggle Continues

I have to admit, I am absolutely perplexed at the continuing difficulty both the Episcopal Church, the Church of England and the great Anglican Communion have with ordaining women and ultimately consecrating women bishops. Logically, once ordained how can one be denied consecration?

If we are, at least in part, what we experience, then let me share with you two truly great experiences.

A way back in 1980 or so I was with a parish in Woodbridge, Virginia that had just moved from mission to parish in about record time. Clearly, the spirit was moving in this parish. We started as a mission, quickly merged with another declining parish and through that process regrouped and started to grow. The Vicar, a kindly old retired Navy Captain, retired. The Bishop, then David Lewis, placed a new priest at our parish as the priest-in-charge. The Reverend Paula Woods (some of you may know her) guided the parish through some stunning growth and into a new Rector (wouldn't ya know it would be John Guernsey, but that is a story for another time). During this time I was on the vestry and watched this holy, spirit-filled person build Christ's kingdom here on earth. It was an amazing time! When the rector was called, Paula moved on to become the first woman rector in the state of Virginia. The Spirit was indeed moving in, through and around this wonderful person.

So fast forward to about 1986 and we are now living behind the "Orange Curtain" and attending a Parish in Orange, CA. The rector retires/moves on and we go into our find a new rector mode. I was asked and agreed to serve on a calling committee. What a delight and a real challenge. So, I get to go visit a priest in Banning (I think it was Banning). it was one of those original visitation thingys. Well, a group of us came back from Banning absolutely stunned by a young woman by the name of Victoria Hatch. The Reverend Hatch was an amazing preacher and clearly we needed to get some greater group out there to see this priest. So, we all went and we, the calling committee, ultimately were unanimous in floating her name to the vestry for appointment to the position of Rector. Well, it was unfortunate, I will not go into the terrible battle that ensued, but Reverend Hatch was not called and the parish suffered from an interminable new guy that had no experience and no ability.

Anyway, my point is a simple one.The ordained women I have known, if they are any indication of all the ordained women are an incredible group of clergy. They are spirit filled, love Christ and show it every day. Are great pastors and care givers in the very best sense. Outstanding preachers and clearly, above all else, called by Jesus Christ to do what they do. They are, as a rule, better, faster, smarter and more capable than most clergy. Let's face it, we, the laity still require that of our women clergy, don't ask me why, the standard just seems to be higher for women than for men.

All of this was over 25 years ago. What I cannot figure out, is why we continue to stubmle and fumble and spit and spew about it.

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