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Alda Marsh Morgan on leadership and clericalism

14 October 2009

[H/T:  Perpetua Carthage]

From here:

“There were few of my church worker colleagues who wished to be ordained, once it became possible, not because they didn’t approve of women priests, but because we felt secure in our own vocation as theologically educated lay professionals. What we found offensive was the complete lack of respect for our own work and vocation on the part of the women who sought ordination and were committed to their own vocations as ordained ministers. Moreover, once ordination became available for women, most of us were no longer able to work in the church. The church’s clericalism saw to that.


It is still hard to accept the fact that years of devoted service could simply be consigned to a black hole. All of us were used to the fact that most church people, even then, weren’t aware of our existence or had only a modicum of respect for us if they did know of it. Many — especially among the clergy — thought we were amusing and made jokes about us. Our salaries were laughable and our pensions a patchwork of various programs. All the same prejudices that have limited and infuriated women clergy were ours, as well. But, as long as we could do our work this was, in part, bearable, and we worked hard to implement the canonical recognition and commissioning which we got in 1964, for all the good it did us.” 

–  Alda Marsh Morgan

The follow-up comments were interesting as well.  I liked this one:

“I certainly understand that the ordination of women can be a negative to committed lay women in ministry. The same in true of men, and has led to many ordinations that led to ministries that would work better among lay persons. Perhaps someone will take a serious look at what the church really needs in ordained persons, defining ordination as something more distinctive and not allowing it to be some sort of authentication of ministry. I doubt that the “Princes of the Church” are very well qualified to do such a discernment. Instead, why not ask lay persons what they need to enable their ministry” 

– B Green

And this one:

..the trade-off was that it aided and abetted a clericalism that continues to this day, a clericalism that at its worst assumes vocational privilege and hierarchical entitlement…  

– Edward L. Lee, Jr., retired Bishop of Western Michigan and assisting Bishop, Diocese of Pennsylvania

Many thanks to Perpetua Carthage for pointing me to this excellent article.  As usual policy, I will remind our readers that WO is off-topic for this blog, and therefore no follow-up comments (with the exception of Perpetua’s comments for this particular article whose subject matter intersects the issue of WO) will be approved for posting.  Also, readers are reminded that comments are welcomed and encouraged for articles which have nothing to do with WO, provided that they play nice (see commenting policy for details). 

Perpetua is welcome to comment on this article, even if the comment(s) is(are) off-topic.  😉

– Elder

Categories: Excerpts, Leadership
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