Thirty years’ experience of women priests — and advice for the next generation

Paidiske

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This is from the English church, but well worth a read, I think. Not least because it shows a glimpse of how diverse ministry can be, even within the one tradition.
 

Strong in Him

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This is an amazing article.
What saddens me is the difficulties that women had to go through, before their call from God was taken seriously. And there was no call for abuse, either on their ordination day, or afterwards. Contaminating the church; really!
 
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Strong in Him

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When the first cohort of women were ordained in Melbourne (where I was ordained) they had to evacuate the building because of a bomb threat. Such Christlikeness!
:disrelieved:

I remember when a certain man was appointed Bishop and there were protests outside, and in, the cathedral.
Protest is one thing; interrupting the occasion itself is not on.
 
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Rose_bud

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This is from the English church, but well worth a read, I think. Not least because it shows a glimpse of how diverse ministry can be, even within the one tradition.
:wave:

It was well worth the read, I enjoyed the testimonials. God is indeed the sustainer of the call.
 
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nalex1066

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This is from the English church, but well worth a read, I think. Not least because it shows a glimpse of how diverse ministry can be, even within the one tradition.
Surely Christianity for Christian by definition is Diverse, or am I wrong?
 
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Paidiske

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Surely Christianity for Christian by definition is Diverse, or am I wrong?
I think people often have a very narrow, and rather monolithic, view of ministry. They look at their own priest/pastor/minister, and they think that's what ministry is. It was definitely helpful to me, when I was discerning a vocation, to read about very different women in very different ministries, and realise that this wasn't necessarily a one-size-fits-all reality.
 
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PloverWing

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Several of the priests were described as "self-supporting". I gather that means that they have to have a second job that gives them an income, because they're not being paid for their clergy duties. Is that common for priests in the UK? Is it (I hesitate to ask) more common with women than with men?
 
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Paidiske

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Several of the priests were described as "self-supporting". I gather that means that they have to have a second job that gives them an income, because they're not being paid for their clergy duties. Is that common for priests in the UK? Is it (I hesitate to ask) more common with women than with men?
With the disclaimer that the closest I've come to being intimate with the situation in England, is reading job advertisements (and occasionally enquiring about interesting positions advertised, but after a couple of sad discussions I've worked out it's very unlikely I'll ever get a job in the UK, due to my citizenship status), and comments from colleagues who've worked there, I'd say it's more common than it might be in other places.

I was shocked at the number of jobs advertised as "house for duty," (ie. you get housed but not otherwise paid, with an understanding that you're not being expected to work full time). I'm told that it's common for clergy there to rely on a working spouse, but also that they have a high proportion of late vocations, who come already relatively well set up, financially, and who take on these roles as a way of easing toward retirement. I imagine some are also younger, bi-vocational folk (ie. combining ministry with other ways of making an income). What that says about the health of the church, I leave for others to ponder.

That said, there's more than one way to be self-supporting. Besides having a working spouse, I supplement my stipend by owning property which generates rental income. Not self-supporting, but it's very common here in Australia for clergy to earn additional income in that way.

Is it more common for women...? Women are proportionately under-represented in full time, stipendiary roles, especially those where they are "in charge" in a parish. We are over-represented proportionately in part time roles, assistant roles, and chaplaincy roles. So I would expect that it's more common for women to have unpaid (or very poorly paid) ministry roles.

This is anecdata, but it might be illuminating. When I had been ordained about two years or so, one of the bishops gathered together all the women clergy in the diocese who had young children (like, pre-school age), because she wanted to ask us about what barriers we faced and what the church might need to consider in trying to encourage more young women towards ordination. At that time, I was on 0.6FTE of a stipend. And of the women in that room, I had the largest time fraction. Some were running parishes while being paid for two days a week. Some had part time assistant roles. Some were part time chaplains. It was really eye-opening to see that, despite some of us very much wanting it, not one of us in that demographic had been offered full time pay (I don't say "full time work" because we all know there's no such thing as "part time" ministry!)
 
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PloverWing

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Regarding England: I would've thought that one advantage of an established church was that the government would pay priests' salaries. Apparently not. I don't have direct experience with an established church, so I don't really know how it works.

Regarding women: That's a subtle form of discrimination that I hadn't thought of. Yes, maybe there are standard salaries for rectors of large parishes, but if women can't get those jobs, and are instead limited to roles with part-time levels of pay, then, hmm.
 
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Paidiske

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Regarding England: I would've thought that one advantage of an established church was that the government would pay priests' salaries. Apparently not. I don't have direct experience with an established church, so I don't really know how it works.
Kinda sorta, I think? I believe pay structures are more centralised there. So there's more scope for, say, the church to provide pay for someone to work in a place that could never scrape together a stipend. But I don't think it's as simple as clergy stipends being a line item in the national budget. I haven't investigated the intricacies of it, either.
Regarding women: That's a subtle form of discrimination that I hadn't thought of. Yes, maybe there are standard salaries for rectors of large parishes, but if women can't get those jobs, and are instead limited to roles with part-time levels of pay, then, hmm.
It's a real thing. When senior jobs fall vacant there's still always a buzz about "do you think they'd be open to having a woman?" And a recognition that the answer might well be no. At least, that's true, here, and I would imagine similar in England.

And it's true that women can find it harder to get, or even be considered for, "good" jobs.
 
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PloverWing

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This paragraph struck me as especially profound:

"I argued that the Church of England had, unlike the Church in South Africa, lost the opportunity to lead the way against discrimination in our own society. Instead of being at the forefront of the fight against discrimination we were limping along behind, with the inevitable accusation that the church was merely following secular society. Nevertheless we could and should have a prophetic role as part of the universal church. Sadly, with some notable exceptions, church leaders often avoid confronting injustice; the prophetic role is inevitably uncomfortable."

The author put into words something that I have been realizing about Christianity here in the US, including my own Episcopal Church. We should be leading in this, and instead we are "limping along behind".
 
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PloverWing

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In what way do you see that to be true in the Episcopal Church? From this distance, it looks as if they are doing better, in some ways, than we are here.

I think we're doing well on gender, now. It's quite common here for parish priests to be female, properly paid with a full-time salary.

We'd get to claim a little more of a "forefront" role if we'd ordained women in the 1770s or 1870s, instead of the 1970s.

What sprang most to mind regarding discrimination was a book I just finished reading (The Color of Compromise: The Church's Complicity in Racism, by Jemar Tisby). The US has a particular history with racism -- slavery, followed by the Jim Crow era, together with more subtle forms of racism in the northern states. The Episcopal Church's history was the same mix of good and evil that was present in the surrounding culture.

Here in the 21st century, the Episcopal Church is doing well enough. We aren't any worse than the secular society around us, and we've done some positive things. But I don't think we've been leaders in opposing sexism or racism. Hence the "inevitable accusation" that Rev. Alsopp mentions.
 
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Paidiske

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The history of racism here is different - not absent, but different - but I have definitely heard the ongoing critique from Indigenous brothers and sisters that the church(es) here have been very content to perpetuate the structures, language, and rationale of colonialism. I am not sure that we have worked out where the gospel ends, and where colonialism begins, to be honest.
 
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AlexB23

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The history of racism here is different - not absent, but different - but I have definitely heard the ongoing critique from Indigenous brothers and sisters that the church(es) here have been very content to perpetuate the structures, language, and rationale of colonialism. I am not sure that we have worked out where the gospel ends, and where colonialism begins, to be honest.
How are brown people, such as folks from India or Romani background treated in Aussieland? What about brown or black priests?
 
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Paidiske

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There is racism, I'm not going to pretend that there isn't. I've certainly known people of colour to find it harder to get a job, for example. That kind of discrimination still exists. My bishop (who came here from South Africa) has shared stories of his kids being abused in the street with terms CF would never allow me to post.

Racism here is different structurally, though, to what it is in America, for example. Largely because for a long time the White Australia Policy meant our racist structure was at the border, so we didn't build them internally so much.

On the whole I don't think it's too bad for clergy as such; we have a clergy shortage, if you're any good, there'll be a job for you somewhere. I have heard colleagues talk about families asking for someone else to take a funeral, that kind of thing, though (which women get, too).
 
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AlexB23

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There is racism, I'm not going to pretend that there isn't. I've certainly known people of colour to find it harder to get a job, for example. That kind of discrimination still exists. My bishop (who came here from South Africa) has shared stories of his kids being abused in the street with terms CF would never allow me to post.

Racism here is different structurally, though, to what it is in America, for example. Largely because for a long time the White Australia Policy meant our racist structure was at the border, so we didn't build them internally so much.

On the whole I don't think it's too bad for clergy as such; we have a clergy shortage, if you're any good, there'll be a job for you somewhere. I have heard colleagues talk about families asking for someone else to take a funeral, that kind of thing, though (which women get, too).
That stuff sounds scary. At least Australia does not have as many problems with racial attacks, such as in the US.
 
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