A Reflection on Women in the Church – Part 1


A few weeks ago I shared a short reflection on the outcome of the General Synod vote. In a few days, I will be attending a conference in New Orleans. The theme of the conference is “Let the Church Say Amen: Reconciling Justice and Peace in our World Today”.

As I reflected on the theme I thought of an age-long issue that still seems to challenge some parts of the church, the place of women in the church.

Throughout the long history of the church, women have been marginalized and restricted from playing equal roles in lay and ordained ministries. This sad part of our history causes me to reflect on my life and ministry and the words of Paul who wrote I 1 Corinthians 12:13. “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

I think of my grandmother who was a profound influence in my early faith journey and that of many young people in our neighbourhood. I recall many of them coming to our home on a regular basis, not only for her cooking and baking, but to learn from her. As a single woman, with my parents living in England, she nurtured the faith of her two last daughters and her two grandsons. As I look back, I’m sure that because of her lived experience I grew to value and appreciate the significant role that women have played in my life and my ministry.

I think of my wife who has ministered to me and with me, to our children, to other children, youths, young families and other ministry areas.

I think of the amazing work of the Mothers’ Union and Women’s Auxilliary in Barbados, the Altar Guilds of St. Stephen’s, Downsview, and Holy Trinity, Thornhill, and the tremendous witness of the Anglican Church Women, in general, and that of Holy Trinity, in particular.

I think of the brilliant female theological students I have had the privilege of supervising and mentoring over the years and the hope they offer our church.

I think of the female colleagues of the clergy who offer me fascinating perspectives on an individual basis and in committees.

This has been my experience. When you consider how this experience is multiplied by every person who has been blessed by the ministry of women, one has to wonder, “how could the church get it so wrong?” Let’s remind ourselves with the words of Paul? “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”(Galatians 3:28).

I will conclude this reflection next week.