Tuesday, 19 August 2008

An epoch of matriarchy?

How will feminisation change the Church?

The headline of an article in the Church Times last Friday (15 August) caught my eye. Hugh Rayment-Pickard writes that 'the Church needs to think urgently about its increasing domination by women.'

'Increasing domination'? Snce when did 25% of priests, a sprinkling of archdeacons and no bishops constitute domination? Especially when it's been the other way around for quite a while.

I was slightly puzzled by the fact that the writer appears to support women priests and bishops. In which case, a slightly less scaremongering title might have helped his cause.

He rightly points out that the dominance of women as members of congregations has been true for many decades (probably through the entire history of the church, in fact). What has changed, of course, has been the leadership. But why is it always women's fault? No, it's not ideal, but don't make it women's problem.

I am looking forward to some solutions from men other than 'Blokes and Bhajis', The Bloke's Bible, and banning certain kinds of hymns and songs. I have long believed that many features of church life have alienated many women as well as some men, so don't let's start perpetuating unhelpful stereotypes about men and women. Some men and women enjoy the same kinds of activities, so we need not send them all in different directions, or simply replace women's groups with focus on sport and DIY.

If women have always been better at evangelising other women, perhaps the men who are not so good at it already need to take a leaf out of our book and try a different tack: talking to each other? Or even talking to women? Together perhaps we can find some solutions.

But I am still frustrated that so much of the joy of seeing women become equal participants in decision-making and leadership in the church is being turned into a crisis about the lack of men.

Can we not rejoice that we are finally regaining what was lost in the early years of the church, a partnership of men and women? And then maybe men will allow women to help find solutions to the lack of men.

Talk about 'feminisation' if you must - but please stop blaming women!

For an article from the Sophia Network which touches on this issue, click here.

1 comment:

jody said...

i feel like i have suddenly uncovered an hitherto unknown depth of women in leadership! thanks for this - i often grind my teeth about the so called feminisation of the church, and the unsatisfactory answers that are thrown at it (segregated ministries - argh)

i also recently discovered sophia network, hurray! anyway, thanks :-)