Today is the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Anglican Church of Canada and the 30th anniversary of the same in the Diocese of British Columbia, where I serve. As someone pointed out yesterday, women have been ordained in this church for longer than I have been alive … though again, not in this diocese.
I am grateful for those first six women who pushed through that particular stained glass ceiling and began to forge a way for many of the rest of us to follow. I am grateful for many women in leadership in the church, both lay and ordained, who have shown me what it means to be a strong woman of faith.
And while I have been fortunate to know many of these women and follow in the footsteps of these women, I cannot help but think of other women in other parts of the church who do not worship in a place where they get to see a woman holding the bread and say, “this is my body, broken for you…”
I think of my teenaged self in the year 2000, sitting in the general assembly of an evangelical Christian denomination where it was decided not to decide whether or not women would be allowed in positions of leadership in the church. And then five or six years later in a congregation of that same denomination (yes, I stayed for six more years) where I was asked to be on the elder search committee. Because while they recognized I had what they were looking for to be an elder, I was a woman so all I could do was choose the men who might serve in that role.
I think of my godmother who is more qualified than I am to be a deacon but cannot be (yet?), who faces opposition when she even sets foot behind the altar to serve priests, deacons, and bishops. But yet who persists so that her granddaughter will know that women can also serve Jesus in church.
I think of some of my classmates from seminary who so obviously have a call on their lives but who, as of yet, have to content themselves with lay leadership while they push for a change in the church that they love.
So today I am thankful for the women who have gone before me. And I know that I cannot take where I am for granted and must keep striving for equality for all of us while celebrating those who have gone before.