Saturday, 27 November 2010

Apostolic Women

Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori
Chief Pastor and Primate ECUSA

Apostolic Women, Apostolic Authority ed. Percy, Rees and Gaffin, Canterbury Studies in Anglicanism is a good read. The articles in it mainly came out of a conference of women bishops, clergy and lay leaders at Ripon College Cuddesdon around the time of the Lambeth Conference 2008. I was intrigued by Emma Percy's 'What Clergy Do, Especially When It Looks Like Nothing.' She compares the ministry of parish clergy with learning to be a mother. Based on the research of Naomi Stadlen, she argues that, as with mothers, a lot of what clergy do looks straightforward, even instinctive, and it is quite difficult to articulate exactly what has been achieved. Yet, just as we notice disturbed, unhappy children, we notice unhappy congregations. The parallels Percy develops between motherhood and priesthood are interesting - two 'jobs not like other jobs'. She writes, for example, about the skills involved in taking the story of an unknown person and, working with the family during a pastoral visit, creating the narrative picture that speaks of the person's uniqueness at their funeral. She highlights the ability most clergy have to shift between different contexts and 'modes of being' in the course of a day; from a big funeral to a finance meeting to a toddler group to an adult study group. Being truly present in each of these circumstances demands the kind of letting go of other things that may be on one's mind that caring for a young child so often requires. The book also has the results of Revd Canon Jane Hedges' research on attitudes to women in leadership in the Church of England and the sermon delivered by The Most Revd Katherine Jefferts Schori (pictured above) at the conference.

No comments:

Post a Comment