Statement of conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women
Commemorate, Celebrate, Commit to change
Women Priests of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, from the 25 – 27 of September 2017, came together at this 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood 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
The voices of laywomen and those in the process of ordination were also welcomed into this safe and collaborative space.
This gathering was rooted in daily prayer and worship, contextual bible studies, the sharing of stories, reflections and group discussions. The conference was intentional at reflecting on the past, critically evaluating the present and committing to the call for changes that would enhance the role of women priests in the church, so that our church will become an inclusive welcoming church, where men and women are equally able to serve to their fullest potential, thereby enabling the church to be a prophetic voice in the world.
Through the sharing of stories, we have heard the cry from many, of their journey’s which included, rejection, ridicule, disillusionment, harassment, disempowerment, loneliness and desperation. We have heard the cries and lament of women, who through their desperation, were certain of the grace of God and through Christ, the hope of glory…if not for them, but for generations thereafter.
We listened to stories of how the policies and structures of our church have created tensions within communities, Parishes and Dioceses and have caused vocations to be destroyed.
Challenges confronting the Church
Through prayer, critical reflection and dialogue the following challenges were identified:
- As a church, in all our organisations, policies, structures, and hierarchy, we continue to normalise, regularise and perpetuate exclusion.
- In the continuous striving for equality, we do not deliberately put in place processes to achieve equity.
- Within the province there are no universally set minimum basic standards and criteria for levels of education and skills required for deacons, priests and bishops.
- Academically appropriate theological education as well as ministerial formation must be given greater priority.
- All theological education and ministerial formation should be ongoing and structured mentoring programmes be developed for deacons, priests and bishops in our church.
- The use of language, when teaching about God and human beings, including our worship , must be critically assessed as to how it continues to marginalise and exclude women.
We hereby commit to the following resolutions, which will be tabled at the Provincial Standing Committee meeting from the 27-29 September 2017 for adoption immediately.
A. We respectfully request the metropolitan to enforce previous Provincial Synod Resolutions related to the adequate representation of women at all decision-making bodies of the church and at all Parish, Diocesan and Provincial structures.
B. We respectfully appeal for a transformation of representation within our church that will reflect a 50/50 representation of men and women in leadership and decision making in ACSA.
C. We respectfully request a campaign within ACSA, that advocates for the election and appointment of women as Bishops in all new elective processes, including the appointments made by the Synod of Bishops.
D. We respectfully propose that theological education becomes a priority in ACSA, and that an ACSA universally accepted basic minimum standards of education and vocational training is set for all priests and bishops.
E. We urge all Bishops to send at least 2 ordinands to be sent to the College of The Transfiguration annually.
F. We call for the immediate use of liturgy that does not perpetuate patriarchal leadership and authority but instead uses inclusive, affirming and life-giving language for all of God’s creation.
G. We call on ACSA to allocate adequate resources for the leadership, development and mentorship of women more especially young women in ACSA.