Thursday, 22 September 2011

Transformations at Lambeth Palace

Well, Lambeth was not transformed on Monday!

But around 50 people attended a conference entitled Transformations: Theology and Experience of Women's Ministry.

It was a great day, with introductory addresses by Lucy Winkett, Sarah Coakley, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, time to reflect, group discussions, a keynote address by Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves (from California), and concluding comments by the Archbishop.

There were a number of highlights for me, including the address by Sarah Coakley (Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge). She reminded us that in the 1970s it was argued that the church would be transformed when women were ordained, because women were different.

Yes, the church has been transformed, by the 'cosmological disturbance' of women at the altar.

No, in the way expected - and I was glad to hear her knock essentialism on the head; there is still too much of it around.

She also highlighted some remaining problems, including the theological inconsistency of considering women in the episcopate separately from priesthood, as if the two can be separated, and what she called 'bureacratization', the busyness which women have to take part in to prove they can do the job as well as men. It was good to have this challenged, again from a theological perspective. Where, she asked, is prayer, presence and rest?

Groups explored a whole variety of subjects, drawing on thoughts from ordained women which had been submitted in advance. Patterns of appointment, scripture, different patterns of ministry available to women, the ordinal, liturgy and language, issues for clergy couples...

I could go on. Watch out for the production of some of the materials from the conference in due course.

Yes, it's been a while since the last blog. I'm leaving CPAS as of tomorrow, but this blog will continue...