General Convention 2006

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, and I will praise you . . . Psalm 43:3-4

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church
met in Columbus, Ohio from June 11-21, 2006.
This blog offers a view of the convention and beyond from the perspective of Lydia Evans, a two-time lay deputy from the Diocese of South Carolina.
Visit the links found below for additional resources
as well as pre- and post-convention coverage.
Thank you for remembering the convention deputies and their families in your prayers. For further resources, visit my webpages.
For all posts from the month of June, click here.
For all posts from the month of July, click here.


Faith, Hope and Parity?

Yesterday, I referenced Alan Cooperman's recent article in the Washington Post regarding the election of ++KJS as the next Presiding Bishop. Toward the end of the article, the author notes that according to the Rt. Rev. Catherine Roskam, "women hold 3 percent of the leadership positions in the Anglican Communion."

Now this is one of my pet peeves -- the reader is given an unsubstantiated statistic.

I wonder if the suffragan bishop of New York can tell us how she arrived at the figure of 3 percent? Is she counting primarily female bishops in the 38 provinces of the Communion? Does this include female members of the Anglican Consultative Council? The membership of the Lambeth Commission?

What about the Daughters of the King, the Episcopal Church Women, and the Mothers' Union? Are these considered positions of leadership? Because they certainly are places of influence for women in the Anglican Communion.

But we aren't given a source, and so having established that a mere 3 percent of the leadership of the Communion are women, Roskam goes on to say that, "many women feel that were we represented even close to the percentage we have in the pews, we would not be having these divisions over human sexuality...Of course, women differ over sexuality. We just wouldn't be dividing over it."

This reminds me of the Jefferts Schori's response to a question posed by Christopher Sugden of Anglican Mainstream. Read about it in Doug LeBlanc's article in Christianity Today. Sugden said "the average Anglican believer today is an impoverished African woman, younger than 30, and an evangelical. How did Jefferts Schori think such a believer would respond to the Episcopal Church's advocacy on behalf of its gay and lesbian members?"

++KJS responded that she "likely would be focused on hunger, safe housing, unclean water, and providing for her children. Concerns about sexuality would appear only later in the hierarchy of need."

I absolutely agree that for the average African Anglican woman, meeting the basic needs of her children and her family would be paramount. A mother's first instinct is always to shelter and feed her children, sacrificing her own needs and desires to provide for them.

But we must never forget that the average African Anglican, male or female, lives in a world increasingly dominated by Islam. In Nigeria alone, according to the U.S. State Department, Christians account for about 40 percent of the population, contrasted with Sunni Muslims at more than 50 percent. This makes it more difficult to be an Anglican, and particularly dangerous to be an American missionary.

So let's go back to Bp. Roskam's supposition that, were there more women in Anglican leadership, we would not be dividing over issues of human sexuality. Well, let's see, according to Dr. Louie Crew, statistician extraordinaire of the Episcopal Church, women made up 42% of the House of Deputies in 2006. This is a record number, overtaking GC2003 (38.8%) and GC2000 (36%). And each convention has been trending toward more ordained women than the last. The voices of more women on the floor of the House of Deputies (and more female clergy).

And here we are, deeply divided on issues of human sexuality.

I do think that if we were to involve the Daughters of the King, the Episcopal Church Women, and the Mothers' Union worldwide in these legislative matters, we would indeed be in a very different place. Because these women, I believe, would carefully weigh a number of factors before making a decision which would rock the Communion. They would prayerfully consider Lambeth 1.10, the statements of the Primates, the Windsor Report, and the impact on our missionary witness throughout the world.

So perhaps we should listen to the voices of more Anglican women. I've heard from Bp. Roskam, from Dr. Jenny Te Paa, and from +Ruth Meyers. But I'd like to hear from real women -- mothers, missionaries, members of the choir and the altar guild. Because I've heard what the women in the 'institutional Church' have to say, and frankly, it's the same old song.


Blogger GL+ said...

I've heard what the women in the 'institutional Church' have to say, and frankly, it's the same old song.

I'm so sorry, Lydia. I hope that somewhere along the line you have also met some of us who are Biblically orthodox ordained women. Most people in the church aren't even aware that such an animal (orthodox women) even exists. But we are out here, slogging it out the same as our orthodox brothers. We have the additional handicap of being automatically discounted - or seen as "allies" by those on the reappraiser side - because of our gender.

I, too, was incensed by Roskam's assertion. It was blatant sexism. Or was it reverse sexism?

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our Biblically orthodox church has had either a female assisting priest or deacon or assistant Rector or perhaps all three at once for over 10 years now - all of them with orthodox beliefs and actions.

Those of us in the pews know that MANY if not MOST of the "leadership" positions in the church - nursery school to music ministry to campus ministry to adult education to administration - are held by women, and in my parish, mostly orthodox women (or they wouldn't hang around in this parish or diocese).

Those who only see leadership in a backwards collar are just not looking, and those who don't see orthodox women in leadership are just blind.

9:22 PM  

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