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Stebbing, Great Dunmow, Essex, United Kingdom
The occasional blog of an Anglican priest in rural Essex

Monday, 3 November 2008

Here is healing and forgiveness ...?

This is a thing I've been thinking over for a while, following some stuff on The Radical Evangelical

Hi Jody,
I’ve been thinking about your post for quite a while, and thinking about the gender issue and new wine for ages too. I think we talked about it just after the conferences last summer. For a while my wife and I turned a blind eye, but since personal conversations with the Coles, and particularly since their seminar in 07 we feel more comfortable and accepted; that’s why rather than just sighing, I did a Homer Simpson forehead slapping D’oh! when I read your post.

I guessed the origin of your quotation straight away, even though I hadn’t read the mag itself. Possibly though this was because I know it’s one of your bugbears.

Dennis is right; we do just have to keep on going. I feel that the progress that has been made in recent years is partly down to the likes of yourself not being backward in coming forward at New Wine, but also partly because the Charismatic movement as a whole (cross-denominationally) tends not to think in terms of ordained leaders, but of leaders, per se, ordained or not. At the moment it happens that all the men on the leadership of New Wine are ordained, but not all of the women are. In one sense this could be seen as a good thing, that leadership roles are given to lay people. Too much power in the hands of male priests can also be counterbalanced by acknowledging the priesthood of all believers, not just by bringing in more women priests. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there should be more ordained women on the NW leadership or even the speakers list.

In a previous post on this subject you said, “being married to the bloke doesn’t count”. I think that’s a good point, if you are looking for ordained women in leadership. I’m not sure whether Jane Morriss, vicar of St Gabriel’s and on the leadership of the LSE week is married or not, but if she is we don’t see her husband in the mag or on the stage.

Looking at the history, I wasn’t around at the time but I do think that when the Pytches founded NW they did so as a couple, not as the vicar/bishop and his wife, almost in a parenting role – that is particularly true of their relationship with Soul Survivor. So it will have seemed natural to continue that couple thing, and at the time, say early to mid 90’s, the charismatic evangelical women priests we see today were all either curates or still in training, and the culture of the social grouping that makes up yer basic new wine church was both theologically and culturally conservative. I hope and pray their time will come soon.

That is to say, while they may not have theological objections to women in leadership, and while key charismatic texts like Joel 2 may have taken away the glass ceiling in theory (especially after Don Williams’ magisterial “Church, Wake Up!” call in the early noughties), in practice, your suburban upper middle class church, vicar and congregation are still going to be working on the social/cultural principle that it’s dad who gets up to get the train to London and mum who stays at home or works part time. In a sense this is divorced from the theology of charismata that affirms all believers as ministers in the Spirit. In low churches let’s not forget that ordination is not the be-all and end-all.

Anyway, NW is not a church it is a movement/network. It overlaps denominations, and even traditions within Anglicanism – let’s not forget that when he was in Wales, ++RW received a lot of prayerful support from NW types. Other than the fact that there is a communion at the conference, I wonder whether there need to be any priests on the leadership team, let alone more women priests. At least the situation is not as bad as the fire brigade where at one stage in the recent past following the introduction of equality policies of employment, it was hard to get a job as a fire fighter unless you were a black disabled woman.

To me New Wine is a family, and families aren’t led by priests, but by parents. I just don’t know if Marks Melluish and Bailey et al are in that place, or whether they do see themselves as the main “priestly” leaders with their wives as “helpers” (yuk), and I do know you need not fear the presence of Paul Perkin on the LSE leadership.

I don't know whether you're finding any of this helpful, and let me reassure you that I fervently hope that there will be more ordained women involved in leading NW soon.

Keep on going, and I pray things sort themselves out for you when it comes to your training.


1 comment:

  1. hi tim

    i've posted a continuation of the conversation here: http://radical-evangelical.blogspot.com/2008/11/chatting-with-friend.html

    will be interested to hear more of your thoughts....

    x jody


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