“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Dear St. John’s,
Earlier this year, WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer asked listeners to share the events that shaped them in a series called “News That Defined Your Generation.” While major events like Watergate and 9/11 immediately came to my mind, I realized that the event that affected me the most was one whose true impact I only felt years after it happened: the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church.
July 29 marks 49 years since the first 11 women became Episcopal priests in Philadelphia in what initially was labeled an “irregular” ordination. Two years later, General Convention officially approved ordaining women to the priesthood starting Jan. 1, 1977, and “regularized” those 11 ordinations and four more that followed in Washington, D.C., in September 1974.
I was a child when all of this happened and couldn’t have imagined the tremendous impact numerous female priests would have on my life, let alone that I myself would be called to ordination.
I can only imagine how hard it was for women who previously felt that call and were told “no” simply because they were not men. I remain incredibly grateful for the Philadelphia 11, the bishops who ordained them and all who worked for many years to allow all who hear God’s call to ordination the opportunity to pursue it.
Let us continue to work toward equality and equity for all within the church, for we all equally are children of God.
P.S. – This Sunday, we will celebrate the anniversary of women’s ordination during our 10:30 a.m. Eucharist. Join us, and hear our guest preacher, Ms. Brigid Dwyer. She is the Youth and Children's Minister at St. George's Episcopal Church, Maplewood, and a PhD student in Bible and Cultures at Drew Theological School, where she also received her Master of Arts and Master of Sacred Theology, and was a classmate of mine. Brigid is also a nominee for Diaconal orders, serves on the ACTS/VIM board, and previously served on the Executive Board of the Union of Black Episcopalians, Diocese of Newark chapter.
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