Thursday, May 07, 2009

Seeing and believing

Last night was a milestone in the life of this diocese, and most specially in the lives of those of us who have mourned and prayed and campaigned and dreamed as the Church of England struggles to to reconcile its theology of priesthood, affirming the vocation and ministry of so many women, with its longing to embrace and include those whose views are radically different...
Last night, in Tewkesbury Abbey, for many years symbolic of the strand of "traditionalist"Anglo Catholicism that sees ordained women as anathema (though they neve passed the resolutions that deny women's ministry & have travelled light years with the present vicar, who is altogether wonderful, affirming and welcoming), Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, of our link diocese of El Camino Real in California, presided and preached at the Eucharist.

It was an unbelievably shiney occasion.

In the course of the week, I've encountered +Mary 3 times, and each time she has reduced me to tears. She represents a dream that might, by God's grace, become a reality...
As N, the chair of our diocesan WATCH, elegantly expressed it in her welcome
"we have seen and now we can believe..what might be for us".
+Mary's words in the sermon and afterwards at Abbey House, following hot on the heels of her address at the clergy consultation/training day deserve a post of own, when I've time to do them justice, but for now I just want to mark the wonder of the event. After she had pronounced the final blessing, and was making her way down the choir, applause broke out from behind me and soon we were all caught up in a great wave of joy.Afterwards, from my station behind the bar, I had a great view of the crowd that packed into the big reception room at Abbey House, and that made me weep internally all over again. There were the older ordained women, the trail blazers who pushed and pushed til the door was open, so that people like me could walk in without pause...There were the young women, of an age with Hattie Gandhi, exploring their vocation, - and some deacons to be priested in just a few weeks now...Women who believe with all their being that they are called by God to minister as priests in the Church...but conscious that so much is still unresolved, that the machinations that may be necessary to enable the ordination of women as bishops may enshrine the two tier version of ministry established by the miserable Act of Synod..All of us there listening to the words of wisdom and grace that +Mary offered, but captivated above all by her ministry of presence. She was there. We were there. We saw that such things are, by God's grace, possible - and we rejoiced.
Thanks be to God!


jo(e) said...

Oh, wow. What a moment!

marcella said...

I do suspect that most acts of Synod have been fairly miserable but the body of Christ seems to be capable of rising above the constraints

stuart said...

As one on the outside looking in I too pray that your day will come soon!

Cal said...


Were there men there as well??