Sydney MOW’s Convenor’s Report 2022
MOW Sydney’s Annual Meeting: Convenor’s Report
Saturday 8th October 2022 held by Zoom
My theme this year, my last year as Convenor, is about celebration.
This may be considered perverse in view of the ever-increasing threat of religious cleansing by Sydney Diocese. We can’t ignore the fact that they want to eradicate any other form of Anglican expression, apart from theirs, in churches in Sydney. Their clear objective is to make us all part of their monoculture, or as Julia Baird described it, a cult. However, we have so much to celebrate.
The MOW Conference in Sydney on 16-18 September was an event that we could rightly celebrate. We recognized the 30-year anniversary of the ordination of women as priests in the Anglican Church in Australia. This was very successful and a great reason for jubilation when women clergy from around Australia could join in celebrating our hard-won gains.
The thing for me which epitomized the joy of the conference was when the robed clergy from around Australia were processing into Christ Church St Laurence on the Sunday morning after the conference. As they were filing into the church from George St, in an orderly fashion, Lesley McLean, our national President, leapt out of the line and did a star jump with what I can only describe as unalloyed delight. This was a missed photo opportunity, but it did indicate the feelings that many clergy felt at being part of this historic event.
The large contingent of enthusiastic clergy women from Brisbane was a special highlight and I hope we can see more of them in the future.
An event like this does not happen by chance. It is successful because many people work together to make it successful. As a result, I’d like to recognize the work that the Sydney organizing committee members did in preparing for this conference. My thanks go to:
- Elaine Lindsay for her invaluable help with all the behind-the-scenes administration work, attending the Conference Committee meetings, recording the minutes of the national Board, checking the venue, and organizing the fantastic line-up of speakers from around Australia.
- Ruth Champion was a vital conference member who also wrote up the minutes of meetings, generously provided the wine for the occasion, secured financial sponsorship from St Luke’s Enmore Op Shop, and worked tirelessly, from preparing the hall on the Friday, to packing up on Sunday.
- Debra Porter helped with organizing the lead up to the conference and formatted the speakers’ slides and managed these for the speakers when they were doing their presentations.
- Then there was Margaret Lawther who was available to help on front door and process any credit card purchases of books and take payments. She also helped with making things run smoothly throughout.
- Lu Piper helped in the preparation to the conference and welcomed people at the front door with hand-crafted and eminently readable name badges that she had prepared.
The other unsung heroes were the women from Christ Church St Laurence. I would like to thank Lyn Bannerman who worked tirelessly in coordinating MOW’s conference activities with the clergy and members of the CCSL congregation.
This included working with the Rector Daniel Dries, whose warm support and hospitality was much appreciated. Lyn also arranged for Julie Crowley to take photos over the weekend and organized for Mavis and Kalpa to prepare and serve morning and afternoon teas and lunch over the weekend and warden, Brenda Hunter to be our liaison with Christ Church St Laurence.
The conference committee also included National MOW Board members, in particular the President, Lesley McLean, and the treasurer, Kathleen Toal, whose work in publicizing the conference through the website was particularly valuable.
Another notable event was our MOW rally outside Sydney Synod in Pitt St on the Monday and Tuesday before the conference. This event enabled us to fly the MOW flag and we had the banners that were impossible to miss. This was well received by the general public and synod representatives and our point was well made with the Sydney Diocese. The clergy women from Brisbane saw the rally photos on Facebook and indicated that, if we ran another rally next year, they would attend and support us while wearing their clerical collars.
While I’m in thanking mode I’d like to recognize a small group of Synod representatives who were happy to meet with me on a regular basis over the past 3 years to explain what was happening and had previously happened at Synod.
I was most grateful for this group of people who gave me most helpful advice and insights into the workings of Synod. They were Lyn Bannerman, Natalie McDonald, Bernard Stewart and Vic Branson.
Thanks also to our two Sydney committee members Caroline Bowyer and Margaret Lawther who were synod reps this year.
Having committee members on synod is vital.
If we are to succeed, we need to engage with the political system.
In this case this means synod. We need to lobby synod representatives because `women didn’t get the vote by voting’ wrote Olivia Lang—they had to lobby and crusade for equality.
I’m further reminded what Olivia Lang wrote in her new book, Everybody: A Book About Freedom: she observed, `…throughout history, real systemic change has come because of direct action…’
The wheels of change seem at times to move slowly, however I was encouraged by the appointment last week, to the High Court of Australia of Jayne Jagot. This appointment also heralded the first time in Australian history when the High Court has had a female majority.
A timely reminder I think, that if women can be the represented on the High Court, the highest court in the land, then they can surely hold the highest positions in the church.
Bad theology will not prevail however it behooves us to continue the fight for equality for women in the church.
Persistence and resilience are critical, and the MOW Sydney committee is up to the job.
Winston Churchill said `…Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts…’.
Finally, as I mentioned in my opening statement, I confirm that I am stepping down as Convenor of MOW Sydney, however I will stay on as a committee member.
It’s been a privilege to be the Convenor of MOW Sydney for the past 3 years and I’ve learnt a lot, thanks to the many brave women who have helped me.