Anglican Communion News Service
Related Categories: ACO – Anglican Alliance
Working with Central Africa and the Mothers Union, the Anglican Alliance produced a resource pack for churches to use for services on International Women’s Day and Mothers Day. The packs, with briefings and suggestions for action are available in English and French.
To highlight the call for justice, the Archbishop and Mrs Jane Williams will be taking part in the service at St George’s Church in Camberwell, London. The Church serves a community in which many women have struggled for justice to overcome inequalities, inspired and supported by the Mothers Union.
Grace Mazala, the development adviser for the Church in Zambia was the driving force behind the pack to empower women especially in the rural areas. Using biblical references, the pack identifies three types of justice:
- Legal justice so women can get justice when they are the victims of crime.
- Economic justice to enable women to enjoy the rewards of their work and take part in decisions about household resources.
- Social justice so women can get equal access to services, especially education and health.
It suggests actions such as:
- Holding a special church service with people lighting candles for women they know who have been denied justice, or who have succeeded in achieving it.
- Taking part in a walk of witness.
- Holding an open day for one of the many services that the Church provides for women.
At the service in Camberwell, Mrs Williams will lead the lighting of candles, and the Archbishop will respond to women’s stories about their own experiences of overcoming barriers to justice.
International Women’s Day is on March 8th. Mothering Sunday is marked in many countries on March 18th, or later on during the year.
In the light of the just completed debate in Parliament on ‘Women in the Church’, which has drawn attention to the possibility of by-passing the authority of a Woman Diocesan Bishop – in favour of ‘Special Provisions’ for dissenting parishes which do not accept her episcopal ministry – the world-wide movement towards the emancipation of Women , highlights the problems of Women trying to gain recognition as equal partners with men in their communities.
One hopes that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will be present at this service, will be motivated to encourage Women Bishops of the future to become, as Diocesan Bishops, the principal episcopal enabler in their own dioceses.
However, the main agenda of the service at Saint George’s Church, Camberwell, will be to highlight the need for Women to be recognised for their equal sharing of responsibility in their local community in the various countries of the world where women are presently looked upon as second-class citizens, with very little in the way of political or civil rights of their own.
The Church of England, in its movement towards the Ordination of Women as Bishops in the Church, must ensure that the ensuing legislation from General Synod does not place then in the invidious position of having to defer to the ministry of a male bishop, in order to cater for the perceived ‘needs’ of a vocal minority of Anglicans who do not recognise their charism as Bishops in the Church.
Any other process would surely create an un-catholic precedent of a two-tiered episcopate in the Church of England – A situation that would put the C.of E. at odds with many other Provinces of the Communion.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand