Yesterday, the Church of England confused "unity" with "unison" and voted down a compromise resolution that would have ended centuries of discrimination against women as bishops while leaving a place to stand for those who disagree. Due to the marvels of modern technology, I tuned in on my iPhone and listened via live-stream to part of the debate from their Synod with sadness as the same, old, tired arguments we heard here in the Episcopal Church by those opposed to the ordination of women were trotted out and dusted off and flung about.
We have been ordaining women in the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion since 1974, so it was a little like going back in a time capsule to the days when our ordination was "the thing" that was going to irreparably rend the fabric of the communion as we abandoned the faith received from the apostles and undermined western civilization as we knew it. Or words to that effect.
I remember one General Convention -- it must have been 2000 because we were in Denver. I had to call my travel agent (who was a member of my church) to change my return flight and while we were managing that from the pay phone (remember those?) at the back of the convention hall she asked me "So what are they debating now?"
I paused, listened in to the debate going on from the floor and came back on the phone and said, "The ordination of women." And she said, "Seriously?" -- unable to believe that after more than 25 years there were still arguments to be had around the equality of women in ministry in the 21st century.
And I had the same reaction to today's goings on across the pond. Seriously? Because at the end of the day the victims in this sad, fear based decision are not the women whose vocations have once again been reduced to bargaining chips in a game of church politics or even the conservatives who feel marginalized because of their increasingly minority position.
The real victims are the tender souls yearning for spiritual community and for the Good News of the Gospel and hearing instead from the Church yet-another-reason not to be a Christian. Today's decision was inward looking, short-sighted and a deep disappointment to all who yearn for a robust proclamation of the inclusive love of God made manifest in Christ Jesus.
And for all the challenges we face as the Episcopal Church, I have never been more grateful to be an Anglican on this side of the pond. Seriously!
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