Comments: research on women priests

I very much look forward to reading a clear reporting of this interview (and especially Archbishop Rowan's words addressed to women priests) in tomorrow's Daily Telegraph!

Posted by Mark Lowther at Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 4:10pm GMT

Hi Simon, I loved the "Economic & Social Research Council's" despairing press release about women priests:

"Their congregations are often small, rural, old or liberal: the kind of churches that need nursing care."


Posted by Dave at Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 7:39pm GMT

In his book Michael Hampson puts it so well that the point at which women became priests - the big broad church achievement - was when the Church of England began its descent into "chaos". This was because it was, to use sociological terminology he avoids, a 'triad' and became an unstable 'dyad'. The traditionalist catholics were off into a Church within a Church, or out altogether, or in some corners. So a three way institution of alliances became a two way straight fight. I suggested this outcome in my Ph.D in 1989. It had been a dyad in the past, but parliament took a regular interest whereas now it is designing its own chaos. Also he says the evangelicals weren't really interested in ordination - order - as such (the researcher points out evangelical patriarchy). Hampson had personal experience of the charismatic influence, which became formulaic and even deceptive, and had losses when evangelicalism and charismatics did a merger, and he dates it to 1983. From then the old sense of history of evangelicalism was lost, and it has become a nasty fundamentalism which is interested now in power. The liberals, on the other hand, have continued to behave as they did from Broad Church times, always seeing the other point of view, a once accepted by others confidence of defining the Church of England, and now liberals are timid and in cases even seem to perform to the stereotype laid upon them.

I said in elsewhere here that AffCath are no longer the broad definition, and this book is saying similar. The fact that women are in lesser jobs, or in their own corners, should not be surprising from Hampson's analysis.

Hampson, M. (2006) Last Rites: The End of the Church of England, London: Granta.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 8:45pm GMT

Interestingly *liberal* ECUSA, which has had women clergy for many years doesn't seem any better than the wicked CofE. According to Louie Crew:

In 1998, the average size of US congregations with a rector was 433, but the average size with a female rector was only 93!!!

Posted by Dave at Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 11:12pm GMT

My above comment should (of course) be in answer to the 'RV Interviewed on BBC thread'. Beginners bad luck - sorry!

Posted by Mark Lowther at Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 11:32pm GMT

Dave wrote "In 1998, the average size of US congregations with a rector was 433, but the average size with a female rector was only 93!!!"

I'm not sure what Dave is trying to "demonstrate," but he may know little about women priests in the Episcopal Church, and seems to be trying to create an impression based upon a statistic taken wholly out of context.

For nearly three years I was a member of a parish in the New York suburbs which had a woman as its rector. The reason that she was given this parish was precisely because it was small, and not sought after by most male priests.

In contrast, a parish in Richmond, Virginia, at which I worshipped when visiting my daughter, also had a woman as its rector, yet their membership was (extrapolating from what I witnessed) close to 500.

Female priests in the US have entered the ministry with a disadvantage relative to the well-entrenched male priests, and they get many opportunities precisely because parishes are smaller, or generally less attractive, and the 1998 statistics are not at all surprising.

The only valid determinant will be one that takes place two or three generations after female priests become more familiar within the Episcopal Church. Racial integration in the US also did not happen quickly, and greater acceptance of female priests will similarly occur as old prejudices die.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 12:39am GMT

My home parish, Canadian, is rural. They have their second female priest. As far as I can see, the only problems are the usual ones that have to do with personalities and the like, the kind of thing that always happens between humans. She's an excellent preacher, one of the best I've heard ever. The parish is certainly not in decline because she's there. Dave, we know the Evangelicals are popular with the world. I guess that means you hang with the cool crowd. It didn't bother me that I wasn't the popular kid in high school, and it still doesn't.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 12:18pm GMT

I might note that of the five candidates to be the next Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, two are women.

Opportunities for ordained women vary considerably from diocese to diocese. The Diocese of Virginia has rather a good record, but I expect there are more women rectors of small churches than large. OTOH, we are a diocese with many small churches. Most of the really large churches are in the Richmond and N. Va areas.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 1:40pm GMT

If women (lay or ordained) were excluded from this area, the churches could be sold and the proceeds given to the poor, for all the use they would be. Len Baynes, Staoleford Cambridge.

Posted by Len Baynes at Wednesday, 29 November 2006 at 2:35pm GMT
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