Episcopalians Impose Mandate -- By: Steve Henderson

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 002:4 (Sep 1997)
Article: Episcopalians Impose Mandate
Author: Steve Henderson


Episcopalians Impose Mandate

Steve Henderson

General Conference Votes To Require Ordination Of Women As Priests

In july 1997, the episcopal general Convention, meeting in Philadelphia, passed legislation requiring the ordination of female priests. This action follows the pattern seen in other denominational bodies (e.g. the PCUSA) of first permitting a practice of ordaining women, and then some years later, requiring the ordination of women. Twenty-one years ago, the Episcopal body voted to permit bishops to ordain women. Since then, there have been only isolated pockets of resistance, with four dioceses (Eau Claire, WI, Ft. Worth, TX, Quincy, IL, and San Joaquin, CA) still refusing to ordain women priests.

At the same conference this summer, a proposal to bless same-sex marriages was narrowly defeated with clergy delegates voting 57–56 against the proposal and the diocesan representative vote deadlocked at 56–56.

In an interesting development, the introduction of this church legislation prompted several Episcopal clergywomen (priests and deacons) to write an open letter to the church protesting the proposed canonical change.

In the letter they assert that the process of change needs to take place slowly, over “at least two generations.” Thus, they say that patience is required, and to mandate the ordination of women priests “would be to indulge in the sin of impatience toward those who clearly differ from us.”

In addition, they invoke the convention’s integrity, asking the church to hold to an earlier promise that “during the process of reception the ordination of women would be permissive, not mandatory.”

To conclude, these seventy five women note that they “believe that in the fullness of time, God will move the universal Church to wholeheartedly embrace the ordination of women. We see no need to act in a precipitous, coercive, or un-Anglican manner. Rather, we urge the defeat of the proposed changes to Canon III.8.1 and the adoption of mutual respect across our differences while the Holy Spirit brings to completion the work begun in passing the ordination of women.”

Two trends in modern culture have come into conflict here: feminism and tolerance. We are not surprised to see that a pattern has been followed: in the end, tolerance is a surface value that does not extend to those who oppose feminism. Those who think that feminists simply want their position to be “tolerated” as one view among many should take note.

Because truth matters, disagreements over substantive issues matter. Tolerance awaiting cultural capitulation differs from loving your brothers and sisters who hold to a different view, while seeking to convince them of tr...

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