I was born six years after the “Philadelphia Eleven.” I have never known a time without women as clergy in the Episcopal Church. I was fortunate to be formed in a diocese that affirmed and supported women in ministry and I currently serve as a priest in a diocese where the number of women clergy far outnumber the men.
My 4-year-old daughter often holds her waffle up at breakfast and says “this is body of Christ” and then breaks it in half and gives a chunk to her 1 year old brother, saying, “The body of Christ.” She thinks he would make a good priest someday, but asks suspiciously “Can boys even be priests?” She has so many strong, gifted women in ministry to look up to.
We have come a long way. I am beyond grateful for the women and men who worked so hard to make women’s ordination a reality. I feel responsible for knowing that history and passing it on to the next generation, so that we do not take for granted just how hard a struggle it was or fool ourselves into believing the work is done.
My heart sinks when I look at the underwhelming number of women in the House of Bishops, especially women of color. I listen to my sisters across the church share their experiences of lower wages and fewer opportunities than their male colleagues, even today.
I have to wonder if we have fallen short of what might have been. I wonder if we just bought into the same old system of competition and scarcity — rather than mutuality and collaboration.
The good news, of course, is that the journey continues to unfold. It is an honor to stand on the shoulders of my sisters who have led the way and to continue to work for a church where ALL are honored for their gifts and affirmed in their calls of ministry.
Lydia Kelsey Bucklin is young adult missioner in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa.