I was in fifth grade when Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected as the first female presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church. After returning from the General Convention where Katharine was elected, my mother printed out the article written up in the New York Times about her. I taped it to my bedroom door so that people who entered my space knew that this was already a Christian denomination I was proud to be a part of, even if I still couldn’t spell it. We the church — at the General Convention — had elected a more-than-capable and inspiring woman to the head leadership position, to be the face of our faith.
In 2014, on the 40th anniversary of the ordination of the Philadelphia 11, I had the privilege to see the Church of the Advocate where they were ordained. Above my head were dozens of nets, there to catch pieces of the ceiling that would fall because midway through construction, money ran out and the ceiling was made of plaster that was now falling apart. The ceiling was not shattered, but it witnessed the start of a shattering glass ceiling for women in the clergy. In the 21st century, I find hope in the rise of not only women clergy since the Philadelphia 11, but also clergy with diverse backgrounds to truly represent and care for the entire body of God. A world that is good for women is good for everyone, and I thank the Philadelphia 11 women for paving the way for a stream of inspiring women who are passionate about a God that teaches us to be radical and revolutionary in our love and care for the world.
Ariana Gonzalez-Bonillas is a deputy from the Diocese of Arizona and a junior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.