A bit obvious you might think – A lifetime as a woman – of course that is what it is. I am not going to get into a discussion of transgender issues, don’t know enough about it. But I do know about being a woman and what it means – from being born during WWII, growing up in the 50s, being married in the 60s, being a mother of four, becoming a mature student in the 80s, a Minister in the Church of Scotland in the 90s, and a retiree in the 21st century. That qualifies me to speak about certain things. So though this rant comes with a slight apology to my Church of England friends, I cannot stay silent any longer.
In the CofS women have had equal rights in terms of ordination to the Eldership and the Ministry since 1968. However, I recognise that in practice this is not always the case. For example there are still parts of Scotland where women are not accepted, despite Church Law. Those of us in ministry were well aware that there were parts of Scotland where being appointed to a parish were not possible because of local prejudice. Here is where my willingness to accept another’s point of view could spoil my argument, for I can see that some people support a narrow point of view which truly believes that scripture is against equality for women, at least in terms of ordination. And this despite the fact that for many years it has been a question asked about at Selection Procedures. The idea being to make sure that new ministers accepted the legal position of the CofS.
This being the position, I have watched and listened to the debates on the place of women in the Church of England over the years. I always thought it was a mistake that the women themselves accepted a secondclass priesthood right from the start of their ordination. It was written into the canons that people were perfectly entitled to stay clear of any bishop who dared to ordain women. As I understand it, Flying Bishops could be brought in from other dioceses, these being bishops who had not soiled their hands by ordaining women.
Today, in the General Synod of the Church of England, the matter of whether women can be admitted to the episcopacy is to be further debated. As I said, I had never thought it to be any of my business. But I am so, so angry that my sisters are being denied equality and the opportunity to serve God and the church. It matters to me because we live in the United Kingdom, and the CofE is an established church in England, the major part of the UK in terms of population.
All I can do is to pray for grace. Not for me to blindly accept injustice, but for others to reflect upon why it is that religion is so downright offensive. We can do little about other countries. But I still feel very much a part of the UK and want to continue to be proud of our laws of state and a national religion that promotes justice, equality and an ability to allow other religions to exist in what is supposed to be a Christian country.
Of course the other alternative is that we become a secular state and stop pretending.