This Friday (March 8th) is International Women’s Day, and we will be focusing on the ministry of women on Sunday at Transfiguration.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was once asked, “when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?”
Her answer was priceless, “when there are 9!”
We have seen 9 men on the Supreme Court for generations, and no one batted an eyelid, why shouldn’t the court be filled with experienced, wise, capable women judges. The notorious RBG had a point!
It reminded me of a moment in my previous parish, at St Saviour in Pimlico, when we were debating having women serve as acolytes, and then eventually opening the ministry of the church up to women priests. It was a difficult conversation in parish life. One issue that arose was very similar to the one Ruth Bader Ginsberg addressed.
“We should work hard to make sure there is always a balance of men and women on the altar party.”
I thought about it for a second, nodded, but wondered why we should make sure such a balance existed. I also knew, having put many a parish rota together, that it isn’t quite as easy as it looks to make sure that there are balances of any kind in the Altar Party. It all depends on peoples availability, calendars, and lots of moving parts that are beyond your control. So I was pretty sure that by a miracle of scheduling an entirely female altar party would just happen one day. Then I was interested to see what took place.
Well it took a few years, but it did happen one Sunday. The priest, preacher, thurifer, crucifer, eucharistic ministers and acolytes were all female. I wondered if those who asked for balance would notice… no one said a thing. We had moved into a new reality.
This Sunday we are celebrating the first Sunday of Lent. The service will open with the Great Litany, and we will look at the theme of temptation. I am so glad that we will be joined by two of my colleagues for whom I have immense respect. Amber, who often presides at our 9:15am service, the chaplain of St Matthew’s Day School will preside. Canon Abbot Bailey, our Bishop's 'Canon to the Ordinary' will preach. I haven’t looked at the rest of the rota yet, so I don’t know if everyone else is female, but I am going to enjoy these colleagues leading me in prayer and opening the scriptures for me.
Won’t you join me in celebrating with them?
This week saw some momentous news from our church on a hill. We have announced that, during building work planned for the next academic year, we won't be having a preschool on our site.
This was a difficult choice to make, and flowed from acknowledgement that the site wouldn't be safe for children while we work on it.
It has also made me reflect on the importance of preschool education in our culture, and on our site in general. I love early childhood learning, I love our family ministry at Transfiguration. It has also been great to hear the noise of children playing drifting up into my office as I work.
We have a strong tradition of preparing children for school through our preschool at Transfiguration. Karen and her staff have been great at taking children from aged 3 and helping them to develop in a way that will make school less of a challenge. This tradition has been a part of our parish almost since its founding. It is hard to contemplate not having this go on here for the coming year.
But we do hope that refurbishing our buildings will prepare us for a future in which we can build on the strong foundations of our current preschool. As we refurbish the building we hope to build some new concepts into our future preschool. We hope to build it around the strong core of the current program, and also provide extended care throughout the day. We hope to take younger children, and to offer flexible choices for parents about the number of days they can attend. But we don't know exactly how that will all be constructed. Join in the conversation about what we need in a future preschool in the comments below.
Also watch out for notices of a celebration of the life of our preschool over the last five decades. We want to have a party to acknowledge the great work that has been done here.
If you have any questions or comments write them in below. I would love to hear what you have to say.
From the UK, Matthew loved US culture from the first time he picked up a Fantastic Four Comic when he was 12.