From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Deputies turn down call for more conversation on womens

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Mon, 4 Aug 2003 19:37:56 -0400


August 4, 2003

Deputies turn down call for more conversation on women's ordination

by James Thrall
[ENS] After 27 years of ordained ministry by women, the time for talking
is over, deputies stated Sunday afternoon.

Deputies approved a heavily amended resolution (A017) that would have
requested $50,000 for a national conversation "to assist the whole
church to promote, explore and develop ways to facilitate the ordination
of women in every diocese and their full and equal deployment throughout
the church." The resolution also would have called for a day of dialogue
and reflection at the next General Convention.

The conversation was to be in response to a report of the Task Force on
Women's Ordination, which over the past triennium arranged visits to the
three dioceses of the Episcopal Church - Fort Worth, San Joaquin and
Quincy - led by bishops who do not ordain women. 

As passed, however, the resolution only gives thanks "for the work of
the Holy Spirit within our communion through the life-giving ministry of
ordained women."

The Rev. Gay Jennings of Ohio, chair of the communications committee
that recommended the amended version, said the cognate committee
representing both bishops and deputies was unanimous in deleting almost
all of the resolution because "not one person who testified before the
committee thought a national conversation . was a good idea." 

Some, she said, "called the resolution a slap in the face given their
testimony" about their frustrations that some bishops refuse to ordain
women. At the committee hearing, women also spoke of difficulties they
face living and working in dioceses where ordained women are made to
feel unwelcome. Most of those who testified, she said, felt that the use
of $50,000 to discuss again the need for all dioceses to uphold the
practice of the church "would be incredibly poor stewardship."

The Very Rev. Cynthia Black of Western Michigan gave some taste of that
reaction when she said she would support the amended resolution but did
so "with a very sad heart." It is 27 years "since this church approved
the ordination of women," she said. "In 27 years, the majority of
dioceses have been able to experience the wonderful ministries of
ordained women. And this is the best that we can say about them?"

The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Kaeton of Newark also asked that "all ordained
women" among the deputies stand up as a way to "acknowledge their
presence among us and celebrate their ministry in this church."

As a member of Executive Council who heard the reports about the
visitations, James Bradberry of Southern Virginia said he understood the
sentiment behind the amendment. He called the work of the task force's
visiting committees "extraordinary" and said Executive Council was told
that "in some instances they were received in what one can describe as a
hostile manner." In at least one diocese, "they tried to contact people
in the diocese who wanted to be heard and I think made a valiant effort
to do it" but felt frustrated in those efforts, he said.

In drafting the resolution, Executive Council felt "we had gone as far
as we reasonably could go in this triennium given the nature of the
work," Bradberry said. He acknowledged that he himself "did not find our
resolution in Executive Council to be very satisfactory" and stressed
that he was "extraordinarily sympathetic to the people of the dioceses
who felt we let them down. That was not our intention."

The Rev. Thomas E. Hightower of Fort Worth, however, defended the
practice of the diocese, where the official visitors complained they
were greeted with hostility. "In the Diocese of Fort Worth this very
morning, a woman stood at the altar in my parish . just as she has
almost every Sunday for eight years and in the diocese for the past 15,"
he said. The woman is a "valuable, respected and honored member of my
staff. She has my utmost respect." 

While Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth will not ordain women as priests,
he permits women in the diocese to pursue ordination and to be ordained
through the Diocese of Dallas.

Puerto Rico welcomed

Having struggled with parliamentary procedure in their efforts to
approve the inclusion of Puerto Rico as a diocese of the Episcopal
Church, deputies gave an enthusiastic welcome as the diocese's
deputation was officially seated. Waving a small Puerto Rican flag, the
Rev. Wilner Millien led the deputation onto the floor of the house amid
a standing ovation.

Puerto Rico's journey to this moment could be likened to a four-story
building, Millien told the deputies, dating back to the 19th century
with the first Anglican church in Puerto Rico, through the association
of the diocese with the Episcopal Church as a missionary district in
1901. The third floor, he said, was the designation in 1979 of Puerto
Rico as an extraprovincial diocese, as dioceses outside the geographical
boundaries of the Episcopal Church were invited to "work together in the
formation of new provinces." An effort over a number of years to draw
Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico together in a
province ultimately failed.

"Today, we are giving birth to the fourth story" as the diocese becomes
"partners in full communion with this province of the United States,"
Millien said. "For this we are grateful, we are happy and we are ready,"
he said. "We want to bring what we have, ourselves, our culture, a way
of praying, a way of singing, a way of dancing, a way of saying to God
that we love him."

Other actions

Deputies also approved a resolution calling on dioceses to establish
committees on alcoholism and drug dependency that would provide
educational programs for clergy, church staff and congregations (A123).
The resolution was amended to indicate that dioceses should also provide
"adequate" insurance coverage for diocesan clergy and church staff for
mental health and addiction.

In other business, deputies voted to:

-- authorize Executive Council to appoint a task group in consultation
with the Church Pension Fund to study employment policies and practices
in the dioceses and parishes of the church and to consider policy
recommendations to the next General Convention that would address issues
of equity and justice for church employees working in circumstances of
affluence and poverty (A006). The resolution requests allocation of
-- discharge a resolution (C012) retaining the ethnic ministries desk
because that action was already covered in an earlier resolution. 
-- establish an Institutional Wellness and the Prevention of Sexual
Misconduct Task Force and request allocation of $50,000 (A023).
These resolutions now go to the House of Bishops for concurrence.

Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops in:

-- requesting that the Standing Commission on Ministry Development work
in consultation with the dioceses of the church and the North American
Association of the Diaconate to study the role of deacons in the
councils of the church, the dioceses, and congregations and to report to
the next General Convention (A119); 
-- authorizing continued use of Enriching Our Worship 1 & 2 (A091);
-- approving liturgical calendar inclusions for Enmegahbowh, Florence
Nightingale and Philip the Deacon (A093); 
-- authorizing trial use of commemorations for Janani Luwum, archbishop
of Uganda and martyr; William Temple, archbishop of Canterbury; and
Clive Staples Lewis (A094 and A095); 
-- authorizing trial use of a commemoration for Philander Chase, bishop
of Ohio and Illinois (A096 and A097); 
-- adding Tikhon for commemoration in the Lesser Feasts and Fasts
-- adding the Rev. Dr. John Roberts for commemoration in the Lesser
Feasts and Fasts (C013); 
-- ratifying actions of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music
-- establishing a practice of redeploying world mission funds
historically committed to the church's financial covenants with former
international jurisdictions of the church to other areas of the church's
global engagement (A151). For the next triennium, the amount made
available would equal roughly $1 million, with a lesser amounts expected
to be available in the three following triennia, reported Bonnie
Anderson, chair of the Joint Standing Commission on Program, Budget and

Deputies approved a number of resolutions listed together for consent:

-- concurrence with the elections of Bishops Wendell Gibbs of Michigan,
and Katherine Jefferts Schori of Nevada to the Board of Clergy
Deployment (X005); 
-- concurrence with the election of the Rev. Dr. Robert Wright as
historiographer (X006); 
-- concurrence with election of the Rev. Canon Carl Gerdau as registrar
-- concurrence with election of the Church Pension Fund as recorder of
ordinations (X008); 
-- giving thanks for the Episcopal Church and Visual Arts (D024).

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