You will have heard about the Church of England’s no vote to women bishops. You may want to read more on The Guardian’s live account or the shorter read of the London Evening’s Standard. Just a couple of many examples of online reporting on this news.
Last night there were so many different angry and pained reactions within me. I cried, I stomped, I considered my options, I prayed. I stood with the other hurt women in the Church of England, and the men who stood with us. We shared encouragements. Amongst the pain and disappointment of it all there was hope and resilience.
There is so much that I want to say on here. I want to attack and make deep arguments, and I want to plead, and I want to mourn. There are so many words and I intend to keep writing. I also want to take the opportunity to invite other women to share their voices.
I have lots of personal hurts and frustrations. But my first thoughts naturally go to the young people, and more specifically this week the young women, who I serve within/on behalf of the Church of England. To them this blog post is addressed and dedicated.
To you young women who inspire me and delight me, and have always been a privilege to serve,
I want to say sorry from our church to you, because apologies are needed. I am sorry that still there are those within the church who would limit your brilliant offerings because of your gender. I am sorry for the subtle teaching that so poorly fits with the God I know, who longs to empower you and see you move mountains.
I want to tell you about Jesus and his women friends; the two women he trusted first with the news that he had risen, or the woman who he healed of problems of menstruation and took away her embarrassment. The woman who was scape goated to put him on the spot, and how he embarrassed her violators and called her to a higher way of living. I want to tell you about his mother, who took on one of the most important jobs in the history of God’s work on earth when she was just a teenager.
I want to tell you about the great host of women I’ve learned from. People who’ve loved me and shaped me and tended to my wounds in profoundly life changing ways. Or women who’ve taught me in person, or by standing up and making their voice heard. Women who’ve managed conflict and budgets, teams and households. Women who’ve changed the world, with sacrifice and courage, with fierce cries against injustice and deep strength.
I want to tell you about the woman you’re becoming, because I’m not sure that you see it all. You are wise and bright and valuable. Your offering is unique and so precious to the world around you, and so vital for the church. Your voice can be an instrument of change and your words and actions can change lives. You are powerful and potent. You are needed.
I want to ask you to keep dreaming big, in ways that cannot be capped by any institution or establishment. I invite you to dream bigger than you could possibly ask or imagine. I dare you to shout about the injustices you see and the needs you feel.
And in an age where we still have to fight to claim and protect our worth, know just how delightful and incredible you are. How loved you are and how fearfully and marvellously you are created. How safe you are in God’s covering and how deserving of safety you are and how the covering of grace is big enough for the whole of you.
I pray that your generation will keep flourishing. I pray that you will challenge me and teach me and lead me on, and that I would have a wisdom as I age to remember how much I need your input. I pray that when you’re dreaming dreams for the church you would still make plans for yourself as an agent of change and authority.
Yours, with the deepest respect and gratitude that I get to do church with you, and sadness that we do not yet have something better to offer you,