Tuesday, March 6, 2007

And now, the (Anglican) women speak.

(...) “The women of the Communion have, I believe, moved from bewilderment to outrage at the ways in which a small cabal of leaders have continued to insist that the issues exercising them alone over human sexuality are inevitably to preoccupy us as well," said Jenny Te Paa, an Anglican UNCSW [United Nations Commission on the Status of Women] delegate and ahorangi, or dean, of Te Rau Kahikatea, the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand.

"The arguments are all a male ancient power play for territory and ownership of space, be it physical or theological," agreed Phoebe Griswold, a UNCSW delegate from the United States. "The women's ways forward have to do with working for the welfare of creation and the full flourishing of humankind.” (...)

What the Primates have failed to realize, Te Paa said, is that "the priority focus for Anglican women always has been the pressing issues of life and death, which are daily facing too many of the women and children of God's world. How can we compare the needless horrific suffering of women and girls being brutally raped when collecting firewood or water with the endless hysteria of male leaders wanting to debate whether gay men have full humanity or not?"

For the Anglican women, the mission to work together to heal God's world takes precedent over their theological differences. In their statement, they pledge to live out reconciliation for the sake of a suffering world.

"This sisterhood of suffering is at the heart of our theology and our commitment to transforming the whole world through peace with justice," the statement says. "Rebuilding and reconciling the world is central to our faith." (...)

Margaret Rose, director of the Episcopal Church's Office of Women's Ministries [said] "Women have a gift to offer the Church today that insists true unity comes in diversity."

The emphases are mine. You can read the whole story and see photos here.

There is also a companion story on Anglican girls here.

From the Anglican Women gathered at the 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

March 3, 2007

In the name of God, Saviour, Redeemer, and Giver of Life.

We, the women of the Anglican Communion gathered in New York as the Anglican Consultative Council delegation to the 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and as members of the International Anglican Women's Network representing the diversity of women from across the world-wide Anglican Communion, wish to reiterate our previously stated unequivocal commitment to remaining always in "communion" with and for one another.

We remain resolute in our solidarity with one another and in our commitment, above all else, to pursue and fulfill God's mission in all we say and do.

Given the global tensions so evident in our church today, we do not accept that there is any one issue of difference or contention which can, or indeed would, ever cause us to break the unity as represented by our common baptism. Neither would we ever consider severing the deep and abiding bonds of affection which characterize our relationships as Anglican women.

We have been challenged in our time together by the desperately urgent issues of life and death faced by countless numbers of women and children in our communities. As a diverse delegation, we prayerfully reflected on these needs.

We thus reaffirm the conclusion of the statement presented by our delegation to this year's Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women:

This sisterhood of suffering is at the heart of our theology and our commitment to transforming the whole world through peace with justice. Rebuilding and reconciling the world is central to our faith.


I'm proud to say that Jenny Te Paa and I were classmates and friends in a seminar on “Theologies from the Underside of History” at the GTU about a decade ago, during our time as Ph.D. students there. Thank you, Jenny, for your ongoing ministry in Aotearoa New Zealand and in the Anglican Communion.

My Big Fat Dissertation is on a closely related topic. In one of my sources, a 1996 article by Ghanaian Methodist theologian Mercy Amba Oduyoye, are the following statements:

When women get together to face societal problems, nobody discriminates along the lines of religion; the spirituality derived from all religions is tapped. …

“By their fruits you shall know them.” That, for me, is the plumbline for visible unity. ...

[In Africa] What the churches do, whether separately or together, is what identifies them, and in the eyes of outsiders, unifies them.

From Mercy Amba Oduyoye, “The Church of the Future, Its Mission and Theology: A View from Africa” (Theology Today 52/4(1996): 494-505)

Again, emphases mine.

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