A member of the Community of St Anselm and trustee of the UK’s National Estates Church Network, Emma Ash, writes about the empowerment of women in the Church.
I once worked for a church where I was told that I would need to leave my post within a year because “congregations respond better to male ministers.” I have seen younger, inexperienced men offered jobs instead of more qualified women, which has caused the downfall of ministries.
I observed false teaching being taught in churches, which oppressed women. I have seen people joke, just last week, about how funny it is that female bishops are opposed, causing them extra workloads, not realising that such opposition is distracting them from Kingdom work.
We may have arrived in different tents but we are all in one house now. If we cannot live together, if we cannot love, then where is God?
Our goal of establishing equality will continue until we drive out all injustice. Where inequality freezes time; love moves us forward. Where inequality stops us from seeing properly; love illuminates the truth. Where inequality kills the soul; love brings it to life.
Neuroscientist Gina Rippon, states that “it is now a scientific given that the brain is moulded from birth onwards. . . We need to forget the male and female brain: it’s a distraction.”
We need to focus on the facts: slavery still exists in our modern world; women are still oppressed; bishops and presbyters are still harassed.
The day we stop empowering women is the day we stop believing in equality. The time is right and the time is now. We stand not as a political statement or to be seen as popular. We stand because it is the right thing to do. It was what we were created for. To shine, to bring equality and hope in the darkness.
Those afraid of the light try to block out its existence but darkness is the absence of light. When light appears it cannot be stopped and the pathway to freedom is one in which light always prevails.
One idea for empowering women would be to offer an all-female theological college to ordinands delivering a different experience during training, whilst also being a central hub for women’s ministry.
Women should not have to face the difficulties they do. We will run, we will walk, we will march, and move forward because the day of oppressing women in the Church needs to end and the day of gender equality at all levels of the Church needs to begin.