MOW AT GENERAL SYNOD 2022
MOW AT GENERAL SYNOD 2022 AND THE MOTION ON THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF WOMEN’S ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD
Four us travelled to the Gold Coast in May to sit in the Observers’ Gallery to hear the motion presented. We were a good representation of MOW’s history.
Lesley McLean had been an inaugural member of a pre-MOW group in Adelaide, attended the first conference in 1985, is ordained and is the current national president of MOW.
Val Graydon was one of the 92 in 92, a past national president for ten years and ran several very successful conferences and is now vice-president.
Kathleen Toal has been treasurer for every MOW president, was Val’s valued conference helper and is MOW’s memory fountain.
Lorraine Colvin has recently joined MOW and assists Lesley with her considerable experience in teaching and administration.
Lesley and board member and Adelaide synod representative, Sue Bishop drafted the motion.
Bp Keith Joseph of North Queensland put the motion.
That Synod notes that
this year marks the 30th anniversary of the ordination of the first women priests in the Anglican Church of Australia and that by the end of 1992 92 women had been ordained priests Australia wide – ‘92 in 92’;
currently, according to the Anglican Church Directory 2020/21 there are 3831 clergy of whom 888 (23%) are women. Of this number there are 7 bishops, 397 active priests, 171 active deacons, 66 whose position is not specified and 247 who are retired;
and acknowledges the important contribution ordained women have made and continue to make to worship and ministry and leadership in the Anglican church.
and notes further that this year will be a time for observance of this anniversary across the nation;
and that 2 of the original 92 in 92: the Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Kay Goldsworthy AO and the Right Reverend Kate Prowd, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese
of Melbourne are members of this Synod.
Well, there we were, the four us, at the back, waiting. As Day One ended, and the motion being on the agenda for Day One, we came back, and then back, Day Two, and back, Day Three. Val and I, as clergy, knew about synods. Kathleen and Val had also been observers at General Synod in the past, so as the last day dawned it also dawned on us that perhaps the motion was being kept until the last. That proved to be so. And what a wonderful climax it turned out to be. A veritable happy ending.
In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Women as Priests – Bishop Keith Joseph
Archbishop, members of Synod.
Most of you remember the time when the Priesthood was entirely male. I certainly remember the argumentation through the 1980s, and the insistence that the witness of tradition and scripture meant that women could not be in any position of leadership in the church. At that time, as a young layman in Sydney, these arguments were very strong and persuasive. Many of you here were involved in the battles at that time, including cases in the New South Wales Supreme Court.
This resistance to the Ordination of Women continues in the Australian Church. In 2006 the Reverend Michael Jensen wrote Sydney Anglicanism: An Apology. It is an erudite and impressive book, and I recommend it to you as an excellent resource. It helps explain the resistance to women’s ordination and leadership in the Anglican Church of Australia. In Chapter 9, entitled “A Line in the Sand”, he talks about the reasons why he – and most of his colleagues from Sydney – could not and do not accept the ordination of women as presbyters and bishops. In his understanding, the Bible was quite clear: women could not exercise leadership over men. Among other proof texts, 1 Corinthians 11.2-16 and 1 Timothy 3.1-12 were clear: headship is only for men. A line in the sand was drawn.
Like many of you, my views have changed dramatically over the last forty years. As I have seen the Holy Spirit move through the ministry of women priests and bishops, I cannot deny their call to ordained ministry and leadership. The fruit of the Spirit is there to be seen, and not denied. In my Diocese we would be lost without the leadership of women. One of my Archdeacons is a Māori woman who as a parish priest revitalized one of our aboriginal parishes, and who now as a volunteer, on top of her work as a parish priest, is leading the Aboriginal communities through Far North Queensland. Under her supervision there has been a dramatic growth in almost all of our aboriginal communities. The Spirit has been truly moving through her, and we benefit so much from her priestly leadership. And she is only one of a number of remarkable women leading vibrant and growing ministries in North Queensland. I am sure that most of you here can point to remarkable women exercising servant-leadership as priests and bishops. The ninety-two ordained in 1992 have been a gift to the church from which we still benefit. I give glory to God for this. I also acknowledge and give thanks for the work and stubborn determination of the Movement for the Ordination of Women over many decadess
It should be said that I was ordained in a province – the Anglican Church of Melanesia – which does not accept the ordination of women, mainly on cultural grounds. I have seen the pain that the debate causes in Melanesia for both those in favour, and those against, the ordination of women. I also see that same pain here, where so many of you continue to oppose ordination of women because it appears to you to be in clear contradiction of scripture or tradition. I respect the sincerity of your opposition, even if I no longer share your hermeneutic or exegesis. Semper reformanda! I am however grateful that so many of you no longer see this as a matter of salvation, and therefore can be at the same table as those who differ with you on this matter. Perhaps some lines in the sand fade with time and tide.
Accordingly, I would ask you to join with me in a time of celebration and joy, as we remember those pioneering women from 1992 and give thanks for their contribution to our church. May the Holy Spirit continue to bless their ministry as they share with us their love of God and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we find redemption and salvation. Amen.
SECONDED BY JUSTICE DEBRA MULLINS
The Rev’d Elizabeth Smith rose to speak against the motion, calling for all dioceses to move further on the issue of ordination. The Rev’d Kara Hartley, Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry in the Diocese of Sydney spoke against the amendment, which was subsequently lost. The original motion was put and passed.
Bp Keith then spoke urging synod members to celebrate with applause and adding that the motion would never have been put without Lesley McLean and would she please stand up. There was acclamation, rejoicing and synod ended then on a high note. It was worth all the stress, the waiting, and the uncertainty.
Justice Mullins, Lesley, Bp Keith
the Rev’d Elizabeth Smith
Bp Keith with Bp Kate Prowd, one of the
’92 in 92′
Carolyn Tan, MOW member