Thursday, July 3, 2008

Women as Global Church: latest column at the Episcopal Café

My monthly essay is up at the Episcopal Café.

Some excerpts:

... These days, with Lambeth looming, we Anglicans tend to filter the word “church” through a particular lens. Like all lenses, it affects our vision, focusing on some realities and leaving others blurred.

I want to talk about church and about women as church.

Think of this as taking the camera we have been training on the Anglican muddle and performing two actions with it: zooming it outward and around to include the church universal, and examining the whole view through the lens of women’s experience and insight.

Church: not just the Anglican Communion, but the church in its fullness and multiplicity: the oikoumene, the word for the world church also meaning “the whole inhabited earth” -- this fragile earth, our island home, where God dwells among us.

Women as church: not just
women in the worldwide church, but women AS church.


Do you know the major issue women identified during the WCC [World Council of Churches] Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women?

Violence. Violence against women.

In homes. In churches. And of course on battlefields, in migrant camps, on streets, but especially in those other places, home and church, the places that should be the safest. No socio-economic class, race, or nationality was exempt. Women from every country and every church reported this violence.

Violence was the major issue brought up by
church women. As a Christian issue. As an ecumenical issue. As an issue directly and intimately related to who we say we are as friends and disciples of Jesus and as images, icons, of the living God, the one and holy Trinity.


... I confess: Lambeth and GAFCON raise the same questions for me when I look at them through a feminist lens, which is the lens of women as global church.

Who is defining the situation?

What is church? Who is church? Where is church?

Who decides? Who interprets? Whom does this benefit?

What is unity? At what cost and over whose backs do we build unity?

What are the truly important matters for the friends of Jesus who call themselves the Body of Christ?

What are the needs of the world and the signs of the times?

Where ought our attention to be directed in these times?

And where, where will be the women and the voices of women, of women as church?

More, and permanent link, here.


Deirdre said...

Thank you, thank you Jane for this very important post. I've just left a comment at Episcopal Cafe prompted by applying the kind of critical thinking you suggest to any number of recent events in the life of our communion including Gafcon and the Lambeth Bible Study Guides on John's Gospel.

FranIAm said...

Jane - this is a brilliant post. Thank you.

Then I had to meet up with this today.

God have mercy. Please.

johnieb said...

Good work, Jane, and how wonderful that you have this bully pulpit at Episcopal Cafe! These are questions that will endure among us, which you put eloquently and with the force of the Spirit.

Alas, dear Fran! I grieve for you, and for all who are affected, myself included, by these continued travesties, which only seem to grow more numerous and toxic, as many feared would be the case with this Pope.

As one of my parish moderators used to say, "All this church needed was a few good funerals."

My prayers are with you.