25th anniversary conference of Anglican women’s ordination to the priesthood
This year (2017) marks the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood. The historic resolution to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood was taken at ACSA’s provincial synod (highest legislative decision making body) in 1992 in Swaziland. This decision was viewed by many as a major transformational turning point for the church for its ministry, especially towards becoming a more representative and inclusive entity that would welcome and embrace diversity. The implications of this transformation would imply that the church would need to re model its structure, canons, leadership styles and liturgy to be an inclusive church and that this remarkable transformation would lead to greater participation of women in the church at all levels, ultimately resulting in the growth of the church as well as to become better able to achieve Gods mission.
ACSA was not the first province in the Anglican Communion to begin to ordain women to the priesthood. The decision taken in 1992 followed a long debate over decades all over the Anglican Communion. Many women and men went through dedicated and sustained processes of prayer, dialogue, theological reflections together with much advocacy in favour of ordaining women to the priesthood. Equally there were many voices against such ordination and to date there are provinces in the Anglican Communion who still do not accept the ordination of women. As late as 2012, there was still one diocese in our very own province, that refused to consider the ordination of women.
In 1992, when the resolution was passed, there were already some women who had been ordained as deacons for many years without hope of being ordained as priests. Some women remained in the order the of the permanent diaconate, while some women had left the country to be ordained in other provinces.
Women in ACSA, have now been serving in the ordained ministry for over 25 years and as priests for 25 years. ACSA has much to celebrate, while also acknowledging that as a church we also have much to work on to achieve significant strides in transformation. While there is much to give thanks for, there is also much to lament about and much work towards creating a truly inclusive and welcoming church.
The vision of the conference is to create a safe and collaborative space for ordained women to:
- Commemorate the years of struggle leading up to the first ordinations of women to the priesthood in 1992
- Celebrate this 25th anniversary as a victory over exclusion, inequality, and injustice in the church
- Cry with lamentation for the exclusion, inequality, and injustice that remains in the leadership, structures and practices of the church
- Critically consider the nature of these practices of exclusion, inequality, and injustice and how they continue to marginalise women
- Commit to work collaboratively for the transformation of church structures and practices to truly become an inclusive and life-giving church