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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 16

22 July, 2018

July 22nd is the Feast Day of St Mary Magdalene. She is more prominent in the Gospels than most of the male apostles, being referred to on no less than twelve occasions. She travelled with Jesus as one of his followers and witnessed his crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Mary's prominence in the gospel of John (20:11-18) is remarkable: her encounter with the risen Christ is intimate and primary, and is then presented as the archetypal Christian witness to the resurrection, the first to proclaim even to the other disciples: "I have seen the Lord." St Thomas Aquinas famously described her as the "apostle to the apostles."

In his parish pew sheet this weekend, our Archdeacon Craig D'Alton notes that there are: "many parts of the church, including the Anglican Church, where women are actively excluded from leadership roles. This remains so despite multiple examples of women like Mary Magdalene whose stories punctuate the Gospels with reminders that Jesus repeatedly broke through the accepted barriers of gender exclusion. There remain four out of twenty-three dioceses in the Anglican Church of Australia that do not ordain women to the priesthood. More alarming, there are some parishes even within this diocese that refuse to allow women to undertake lay ministry roles where there might be a risk of them 'teaching' men. We need, as a church, to speak out against this sort of exclusionary behavior, which contradicts Jesus' own example."

We have made some important moves forward as a parish in this regard over the years, and are blessed by the Rev'd Louise Lang who has served as Deacon at St Peter's for several years now; but we still have a long way to go. The Vicars of St Peter's have always been men, since 1846, and while we now often have visiting bishops, priests and deacons who are women, the stipendiary and non-stipendiary clerical staff at St Peter's are still almost exclusively male. I am encouraged, however, by the Klingner Scholars and Theological Students who have blessed us with their ministry at St Peter's in recent years: the Rev'd Dr Sharne Rolfe, the Rev'd Mel Clark, the Rev'd Heather Scott, the Rev'd Suzanna Walsh, the Rev'd Christine Angus, and our current scholars Lynda Crossley and Colleen Clayton. One of our older parishioners put it like this: "I wasn't in favour of women's ordination, but I and others have been swayed by these theological students, who are clearly going to make fine priests."

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

Illustration for Ordinary Sunday 16 Musings

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