Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Women in Texas

From the Wall Street Journal:
FORT WORTH, Texas -- For three decades, a succession of conservative bishops here barred women from being ordained as priests in the Episcopal Church.

But the conservatives went their own way last fall, forming the Anglican Church in North America. And so on Sunday, exactly one year after that schism, Susan Slaughter will become the first woman in the Episcopal Church's Forth Worth diocese to don a red stole for ordination to the priesthood.

"God works in mysterious ways," Ms. Slaughter said, "and this is one of those."

The national Episcopal Church has been ordaining women priests since 1977, but a handful of holdout bishops around the country, including here in Fort Worth, refused. Bishop Jack Iker viewed women's ordination as a departure from traditional church practices and a break from the Biblical model of male priesthood.....

The ceremony at St. Luke's in the Meadow -- where Ms. Slaughter will become rector after her ordination -- is expected to be packed. It will be streamed live online for those who can't find seats.

Ms. Slaughter said she's overwhelmed. "The joy others are feeling humbles me," she said....

Ms. Slaughter says she doesn't consider her ordination a political statement but she recognizes that many in the audience will find the moment deeply meaningful.

Katie Sherrod is one of them. The wife of a retired Episcopal priest, Ms. Sherrod still recalls with absolute clarity the moment she first heard a woman consecrate the Eucharist, years ago, in a different diocese.

"My whole life, I'd heard it said in a man's voice," Ms. Sherrod said. So when a woman priest held up the host, or communion wafer, and declared 'This is my body," Ms. Sherrod said joy and relief washed over her. "It was the first time I got it. It spoke to me. I was part of the body of Christ too," Ms. Sherrod said. "It changed everything."