29 July 2010

"You've come a long way, baby"

Those words ended a cigarette commercial when I was much younger. It was to celebrate the new brand that was marketed specifically for women. Its name was a southern state and the opposite of fat.

I use that chauvinist term today because it really is the best way to comment on today's date in the history of The Episcopal Church (TEC). It was on this day in 1974 that eleven women were ordained to the priesthood of this church. The ordinations caused a tempest in a teacup and it is still one of the reasons some have followed the Duncanites into schism.

When I was young, it never entered my min that there would be priests whose gender was not male. It was simply "not the done thing." I would never have believed I would live to see the day when not only would there by women ordained to the priesthood, but the the Episcopate, and, indeed, our Presiding Bishop would be a woman. Had someone suggested that to me back then, I'd have quoted the Cowardly Lion: "Not no way, not no how!" But God's ways are not our ways. And ain't we glad!

In our current tempest in the tea cup, there is no other person in TEC who could lead us. ++Katharine was truly chosen by God for this church and for this time.
So, here is a cheer for the Philadelphia Eleven, as they were called who became the first, and lived with the hatred for two years until in 1976 the General Convention approved the ordination of women.

Merrill Bittner
Alison Cheek
Alla Bozarth (Campell)
Emily C Hewitt
Carter Heyward
Suzanne R. Hiatt (+2002)
Marie Moorefield
Jeanette Piccard (+1981)
Betty Bone Schiess
Katrina Welles Swanson (+2006)
Nancy Hatch Witting

And here is the the brave and foresighted bishops who made the decision to act for justice

Daniel Corrigan
Robert L DeWitt
Edward R Welles
Antonio Ramos (Assisting)

Here are my comments from last year's 35th Anniversary of their ordinations.