My hope for the future is that women in the church will be leaders without reservation. In the past, women were sent to the back of the line in leadership opportunities. For a number of years now, women have been welcome in all walks of church life in the Episcopal Church. After the election of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, I so clearly remember thinking that my daughter, who was then 10 years old, could one day become any leader in our church, without reservation. This has proven true for my daughter. Ariana served as a first time lay deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of Arizona in 2015, at the age of 19. I believe that young women like Ariana have been encouraged to begin to lead as they share their gifts with the church.
Latino ministry encourages women to become involved in all areas through leadership training and radical welcome and invitation. Young Latinas, often first- or second-generation in the United States, have served as representatives for their parents in their community. In the Episcopal Church they are invited to be themselves without reservation. Young women in Latino ministry often participate in churchwide conferences to fully engage in their church.
I attended my first Episcopal Church service in 1996, at the age of 24. I was a new mother and a graduate student in California. My young family and I received a radical welcome in our local parish and we were immediately hooked. The Episcopal Church was exactly what we were looking for. I have had the opportunity to serve as a leader in the church in a mission, parish, cathedral, diocese, and church wide. I currently serve as the Commission on Ministry secretary in the Diocese of Arizona and every time I do work for the Commission I am encouraged with our church. I have hope that the Episcopal Church is headed in the right direction in continuing to welcome women in all areas of the church.
Luisa Bonillas is a lay leader in the Diocese of Arizona and a college and career specialist at Chandler High School.