I grew up in an Episcopal Church that ordained women. I have never known anything else, and for that I am deeply grateful. Including women in all aspects of our church hierarchy is vitally important, and there is certainly more work to do in this vein. Still, I hope that the Episcopal Church will look beyond our own structure and hierarchy in the next 40 years, and take seriously the call to make this world safer for all women everywhere.
God’s reconciling work in the world involves bringing people in from the margins, and so often it is women living in those margins. Women are exploited and brutalized, victims of gender-based violence, sex trafficking and abuse. Women must fight to be heard and respected in navigating our everyday lives, our workplaces, our families, and yes, our churches. I continue to be surprised by how many people are threatened by or distrustful of women: women in positions of power, women who speak out and say what they are really thinking, women who dare to take an outspoken interest in the right to control what happens to their own bodies, or who ask only to be compensated as much as a man would be for the same work, women who don’t behave either gently or callously enough, depending on the audience. These feelings of threat and distrust are symptoms of the outsider status of women, a status we are reminded of through stories that come up again and again throughout Jesus’s ministry.
We are called to invite outsiders in, always. I hope our church will take the risks required to prioritize looking outward. I hope we will commit to working with, supporting, and advocating on behalf of our sisters in this world.