Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024
My siblings in Christ,
This year, the Episcopal Church remembers and celebrates the ordination of the Philadelphia 11, women who were ordained to the priesthood in July of 1974 despite consistent opposition by standing committees and bishops. It was a courageous act that changed our church, compelling the House of Bishops to affirm the validity of women’s ordination in 1976.
Fifty years later, about 40 percent of Episcopal clergy are women. Today, forty-six women sit in the House of Bishops. And in 2006, The Episcopal Church elected its first female Presiding Bishop - the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori.
That original creative resistance served as a bridge for us to consider broader questions of equity and inclusion, compelling our church to open its doors wider to diversity in race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Throughout my Episcopacy, I have consistently emphasized that our diocese must be a place of belonging. A place where everyone belongs and no one feels marginalized or excluded. I invite the parishes of our diocese to prayerfully consider the language they use through the lens of gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. Is anyone excluded from full participation in the church? How can we explore ways to incorporate expansive language for God and God’s people in our common prayer?
● Whether there is diversity in your leadership and your membership.
● Whether there is equity in pay, opportunity and support among staff.
● Whether the liturgical language and educational resources you use reflect the diversity of your parish and surrounding community.
● Whether you support diversity in race, sexual orientation, gender, ability, age, or other forms of difference when helping people in the discernment of lay or ordained ministry.
In addition, these resources will help you in prayerful discussion and practice:
● Rite for receiving or reclaiming a new name in the Book of Occasional Services 2022.
● Gender pay gap among Episcopal clergy shrinking but persistent by Egan Millard, The Christian Century, April 21, 2021 issue.
● Philadelphia 11 movie (showings in this diocese listed)
May Christ continue to bless and grace the diverse representatives of his Body, to open us to his transforming Spirit of love. We journey together to the heart of Jesus Christ.
The Rt. Reverend Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania