Thursday, August 14, 2014

A PB for our Times: JCNPB Profile

Crusty received, with trembling hands, the profile from the Joint Nominating Committee (hereafter JNCPB).  Though, as always, Crusty has always wondered why anyone would want the job, given the number of PBs who either died in office or resigned before their terms were up.  Here Crusty pauses to pour a 40 on the curb in memory of those PBs who did not complete their terms. (pause) OK, back to the profile. COD was glad to have it, in part because it reflects a much more comprehensive and inclusive process for nominating, electing, and confirming the office of Presiding Bishop.  The process for Presiding Bishop has gradually become more open since

The King was COD's preferred 40 oz back in the day.
it has become an elected office: a nominating committee was eventually created, the requirement that the choice of the HOB be confirmed by the HOD added, and the votes tallied on each ballot made public.  This current process for nominating the Presiding Bishop will be by far the most open and comprehensive of any that has taken place.  The JNCPB should be commended for doing the long, hard, thankless work of posting a profile and outlining the process.  It still begs the question Crusty has raised on several occasions -- namely, why we spend over $200,000 on a nomination and election process when persons can still be nominated from the floor -- but nonetheless the JNCPB should be commended with how it has continued to advance a more open and inclusive way we nominate the Presiding Bishop.

An "executive summary" precedes the longer description.  Frankly, Crusty could have done without this.  If you're discerning whether you feel called to be nominated for PB, would you really not read the entire description?  If you're someone entrusted with voting for PB, would you not read the entire description?  Seriously, who is the 2-page Executive Summary for?  The casual web-surfer who is interested?  For people to use in inquirers' classes? Actually that's not a bad idea.

COD is thankful for the longer profile, because, after reading the executive summary, he realized there was only one person who could fulfill the job description and has the seemingly endless and super-human laundry list of experience and skills:  Commander Adama from Battlestar Galactica. Think of the possibilities!  COD worked for the PB and he would have loved it if the PB delegated tasks by saying in the Edward James Olmos gravelly voice, "Do it."

Crusty is delighted by the turns of phrase in the Executive Summary.  The PB, apparently, should "delight" in the diversity of The Episcopal Church.  That's great, but to be honest, COD would love a PB that could help The Episcopal Church continue to shed itself of a legacy of being a white, racist, upper middle class church of the privileged.  We are still an overwhelmingly white church that struggles to be as inclusive as we claim to be.  While glad that diversity is clearly outlined as one of the central elements of the profile, "delighting" ain't enough for Crusty.

Crusty also loves the list of personal and professional attributes -- a nice balance -- but really finds it odd to have "Knowledge of, and experience in, the Episcopal Church" as one of the required attributes.  Um, you already need to be a bishop in The Episcopal Church to be eligible.  Shouldn't any nominee already have this?  #Duh.

And then the profile opines on the "changing and evolving" nature of the church.  Noting the
JCNPB obviously big Scorpions fans.
"winds of change blowing," the profile speaks of the "
Church-going Boomers that continue to populate our pews, and the Millennials’ “spiritual-not religious” interests have pushed the Church to claim its relevance." 

Hey, JCNPB, thanks for skipping people aged 42-55 in Generation X!  

As an Xer I can say, "Whatever," since we're used to it.  Crusty was at a church meeting once where the small group discussion question was -- and Crusty is not joking -- "How can Boomers learn to talk to millenials?"  Crusty raised his hand and said, "BTW, there are people here not Boomers and Millennials.  And BTW they are a handful of actual millennials in this room to talk to."
Couple of things as to why this sentence is so troubling to Crusty:
--first off, what's up with "church going Boomers that continue to populate our pews."  Again, #Duh.  Non-church going Boomers are not populating our pews.  Seems a bit redundant.

--race discussions for years in the USA were framed in a binary black-white paradigm; now many of these discussions take place in the context of multiculturalism and diversity, trying to incorporate Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Asian American, Native American, and other dynamics; this sentence perpetuates a similarly binary generational discussion as Boomer-Millennial which is simply unhelpful.
--thanks for discounting years of Boomers and Xers trying to push the church to claim its relevance while suddenly waking up to the contributions of the Millennials?
--doesn't the JCNPB realize that a very likely cohort for the next PB is an Xer?  Generational boundaries are fluid, but Xers are roughly 40-55 -- gosh, just upper end of that is just the age for someone to have been bishop for a few years and capable of serving a full nine years before retirement age.

And that's just in the Executive Summary.

Luckily this gets better, COD is glad he didn't stick to the Executive
You're welcome, JCNPB. 
Summary -- the profile more or less outlines a PB who is able to lead the church through a period of profound change and transition.  Since Crusty has already written extensively about this need on this blog, he is thankful the JCNPB took his suggestions.
OK, then there's a more expansive discussion on the diversity question than in the Executive Summary.  Crusty is all for welcoming the diverse, globalized nature of the church as called for here.  But we also need to realize that this diversity is in many ways a result of the church's racist, imperialist, expansionist background.  This dynamic is a complex one, to be sure; at times the agents of that imperialist domination can undermine it.  Take, for example, Charles Henry Brent: elected missionary bishop of the Philippines once it became part of the US grab for empire (not as if there were many Episcopalians were there clamoring for a bishop), he sailed the Pacific along with William Howard Taft, the appointed military governor.  However, Brent also undermined aspects of this narrative: he became a spokesperson for underprivileged and marginalized, fought against the opium trade, and missionized not among Roman Catholics (I will not set up my altar over another's, he said) but among those in the non-Christian rural interiors.  COD is all for diversity: but much of the diversity we have did not come from privileging diversity.  Much had to do with enslaved Africans worshipping in their master's chapels and The Episcopal Church following the United States' imperialist expansion.  Many note with pride large numbers of Native American Episcopalians, yet much of that expansion came at the systematic  efforts to eradicate Native customs, languages, and practices.  Yet here we are again calling for a PB to "delight" in that diversity; as COD has said, this simply isn't enough.

It is interesting that nothing more than "delight" is really asked for here, when in other areas of the profile there is the specific call to have values align with actions, as in the profile of the Presiding Bishop to demonstrate a life of prayer:  "We also seek a Presiding Bishop whose professed Christian values (for example, solidarity with the poor and marginalized) align with his or her personal engagement and action in the world."  

The other attributes sought in the Presiding Bishop are straightforward, until we get to the enigmatic  "Knowledge of, and experience in, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion."  It would seem not just any knowledge of the Episcopal Church or Anglican Communion, but a specific understanding, is what is being sought.  The profile seeks "a respect and love for the distributive, shared authority of leadership across the Church including the scope and limitations of the authority of each position and body of the Church."   At first blush, to Crusty, this sounds a bit pejorative: as if previous incumbents did not have this understanding of the limitations and authority of each position?

Don't get Crusty wrong:  everyone and anyone will tell you that in an organizational structure, having clear definitions, boundaries, procedures, and processes in lines of authority is essential.  Otherwise miscommunication, misunderstanding of mission goals, turf-building, etc. and all sorts of dysfunction follows.  We certainly do need a Presiding Bishop with this
kind of understanding:  but part of the cluster**k of our governance in The Episcopal Church is that there is, at times, an overall lack of clarity of oversight and governance.  Our budget

mess in 2012 was due, in part, by efforts of various aspects of governance getting involved in the budgetary process that were confusing, overlapping, and dysfunctional.  Crusty would hope the profile could acknowledge this kind of "respect and love" is essential not only for the PB but for the PHOD, all bishops, and all leaders and volunteers in the church.   We cannot lay something at the feet of the PB which
Just don't think it applies to Crusty's family, Senator.
is present on may levels and layers of our governance.  As Michael said to Senator Geary, "We're all part of the same hypocrisy, Senator."

And once again COD is baffled by the repeated use of "delighting" in our diversity, which also gets put into the section on Knowledge of The Episcopal Church, where it also calls for a PB who will "delight in the cross cultural reality of our Church." Ima say this one more time:  DELIGHTING IS NOT ENOUGH.  Forty years after women's ordination we actually have fewer women bishop diocesans than in the 1990s and are still overwhelmingly white and old in an increasingly diverse culture.  F**k delighting.  Show me some action and vision and commitment.

Two thoughts on the "Programmatic focus and leadership" section.  This is where the lede for Crusty is buried:  halfway through this paragraph on page 12 it calls for a PB who will "enter the office with a passion for helping to lead the restructuring of the Church."  Finally!  Crusty has previously called for electing a caretaker or interim PB while restructuring conversations continue, arguing that it doesn't make sense to elect a PB under an old structure to step into a church that may look differently.  A counter to that would be to specifically seek out a PB with that kind of commitment.  It comes buried in the middle of the profile, but it's there.

And then, in the last sentence of the section on "leadership," it notes the PB should be "an effective and loving leader of the House of Bishops."  COD can't help but think listing this last has to be a statement of some kind:  after all, for the greater portion of the time the PB was an elected office, this was one of the main criteria for election.  The bishops, who, after all, are the ones who vote, seek someone they think will be an effective presider and convener of the House of Bishops.  This was the reason given by the HOB in rejecting the efforts in the 1960s and 1970s to have the PB elected by both houses, namely, that the HOB should have the right to elect its own presiding officer.  This was what several bishops said to Crusty back in 2006, noting, "The bishops are the ones who vote and a lot of us look at the candidate with an eye towards who will run the HOB most effectively."  That is here -- obviously since it's a canonical duty of the PB -- but comes at the end.

Following this description of what is sought, the profile then expands on sections outlining various canonical descriptions of the office and its duties.

And here we perhaps see this nomination and election could be a little different?  

For some background, the election of a PB falls into that interesting gray area between what is laid out in the Constitutions and what is laid out in the Canons.  The Constitution says that "the House of Bishops shall choose one of the Bishops of this church", with duties to be defined by canon.  That's it.  No nominees, just an election.  In the 1960s and 1970s, there was great ferment around the election process, with efforts put forth to have the PB elected by both the HOB and HOD, with the eventual result that the Presiding Bishop is elected by the HOB and confirmed by the HOD.  The nominating committee itself was created by canon, but tasked with developing and managing "a process for soliciting and identifying" nominees and a "timely process for any bishop or deputy" to express intent to nominate additional persons at the joint session when nominees are presented. JNCPB puts forth its nominees to a joint session of both Houses, and, at times, other names were submitted as well -- often referred to as nominated by "petition" though no actual petition was involved.  Herb Thompson, nominated in this way in 1997, was leading on the first ballot and ended up being the runner-up.  Additional candidates were nominated in this way in 2006, though none evidenced a strong showing.

The question is: how detailed a process is the JCNPB going to develop?  Nothing specific is laid out in the canons, and the Constitution has an even simpler process.  They note in the profile, "Any Bishop of the Episcopal Church on the day nominations are received in a Joint Session of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops at General Convention is eligible, subject to being nominated in accordance with the Canons and processes prescribed by the JNCPB."  Crusty is forced to ask:  what processes?  Submitting to background checks, etc.?  Due diligence of some kind?  Or is the JCNPB going to propose something other than what is laid out, where any bishop or deputy may nominate additional candidates?  Neither the profile nor their previous postings (see, for example, indicates anything other than what is laid out in the canons and in what we have seen so far.  

There is also the question of HOD consent.  Crusty, frankly, has always been a little amazed that the HOD has tended to roll over canonically with regard to the PB election.  It has moved to vote by orders on several occasions, most notably 1973, 1997, and 2006, so that it not seem like a formality.  But Crusty has wondered why the HOD has not exercised what authority it could -- for instance, the aforementioned its role in consenting to episcopal elections.  Previously, if episcopal elections occurred within a certain number of days before General Convention, consent was given at General Convention, instead of by diocesan Standing Committees.  One could make a reasonable argument that the election of the PB is an episcopal election (though COD is not entirely convinced by this argument, just saying you could make one), and therefore since it takes places at Convention the HOD would have had the responsibility to confirm that election -- but not just moving it for a vote, like in 2006 thirty seconds after the news was announced, but down to scheduling hearings and committee meetings like it did previously with other episcopal consents.   Yet this hypothetical argument is moot, since this provision has since been removed, and HOD no longer gives consent to episcopal elections.  It canonically may "confirm or not confirm" -- not consent -- to the election.  Though this provision has been removed, Crusty wonders if, only for process and discussion, HOD has ever considered resurrecting its legislative committee on consent to episcopal elections for a PB election confirmation.  Would be interesting to see if this is proposed, and what push back we might have, since it would exist in a dubious canonical area, since HOD no longer can have a committee on episcopal consents since it no longer has the ability to give consent.

Should the JCNPB, HOD, or HOB introduce processes and procedures not currently laid out canonically, Crusty is wondering if we  will  need to have a discussion about the "scope and limitations of the authority of each position and body of the Church"?  Personally, he hopes somebody does go off the rails canonically, because it gives him something to write about.

In the end, despite COD's comments here, the very fact we have a profile, regular and timely communication from the JCNPB, and a clearly outlined process, already places this PB election as the most transparent and inclusive.  Crusty also wishes the HOD would make a similar review of the election of the PHOD, which, as Crusty has argued on this blog (back in 2011!) is less transparent and less representative than the election of the PB.  If only every part of our much fetishized democratic processes in the church functioned as the JCNPB has, given all excruciating vestry , standing committee, diocesan convention, Executive Council, and yes, General Convention  meetings Crusty has gritted his teeth and sat through where democratic process was manipulated through personal vendetta, parliamentary procedure, and outright dysfunction.  

Way to go, JCNPB.  Now bring me some candidates that do more than delight!

Friday, August 1, 2014

On the Media: 40th Anniversary of Women's "Ordination"

Being an educated, liberal, white male, Crusty Old Dean is, of course, also an avid NPR listener (but not solely defined by that aspect of his demographic; COD is also an Old School Rap gourmand, having seen Public Enemy in concert, the only time he has been frisked).  One of Crusty's favorite NPR shows is "On the Media" (or OTM to junkies like COD) which, as its name implies, takes an in-depth,
Yeah, boy-eee!
critical look at how the media covers various events.  One of its great contributions is debunking myths often created by media hype.  For instance, demythologizing
 the hyperbolic news reports that a computer had "fooled" humans and thus passed the so-called Turing test and the day was coming soon when computers would be able to outthink people and we were not far from a Terminator-like scenario when computers decide to destroy humankind – when, in fact, the situation was far more nuanced and complex.  One of Crusty's first introductions to OTM was when it debunked the emotionally-charged narrative that Vietnam Vets had been "spat" on when they arrived back in the USA; doing extensive online searches of newspaper archives, they noted that this charge did not appear in print in any form until 1978, five years after American troops returned home.  What is often considered a defining aspect of nation’s response to the Vietnam War may have never actually happened.

Now that the commemorations have concluded, Crusty wanted to offer some OTM thoughts on the anniversary of the ordination of the Philadelphia 11, looking at some coverage of the commemoration of this event, and how this, in turn, informs how Episcopalians look at our own history.  Crusty thoroughly enjoyed much of the media coverage, both as an historian of The Episcopal Church and proud clergy spouse of a female priest.  CODW (Crusty Old Dean's Wife) is a far, far better priest than he will ever be and COD watched with unabashed admiration in the late 1990s as she bucked two forms of discrimination and was an ordained female clergy person at age 25, at a time that was the nadir of The Episcopal Church's seemingly institutional refusal to ordain younger persons.  CODW gave her own reflections on the anniversary hereYeah, she rocks.  Crusty knows that, suckahs.

OK, so let's allow COD to get the first thing off his chest:

A)  THIS WAS NOT THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF WOMEN'S ORDINATION.  Yes, Crusty resorted to all caps.  Let's count the ways this is wrong.

1)  The 1970 General Convention approved the ordination of women as deacons.  Deacons are ordained persons.  Therefore women ordained deacons are ordained women.  Not only did the 1970 General Convention approve women to be ordained deacon, it also ex-post-facto’d, abracadabra’d, double-secret probation’d, what-do-you-mean-Flash Gordon approaching’d, grandparented women
What do you mean, Crusty Old Dean approaching?
previously consecrated deaconesses and magically made them deacons as well (Crusty once met an aged deaconness who was not in favor of this decision, while being in favor of women's ordination, thinking that the action muddled the waters and understanding of the two offices of deacon and deaconness).  While not considered "ordained," deaconesses had been an approved office in the church since 1889, and involved the laying-on of hands by a bishop and invocation of the Holy Spirit for the office of deaconness.  Where were the media in 2010 on the 40th anniversary of the approval of women's ordination?  Or in 1989 on the centennial of women's ordination?

2)  This was not the first time women had been ordained to the priesthood.  Some accounts mentioned Florence Li-Tim Oi, who was ordained a priest in 1944 but voluntarily declined to exercise the ministry of priest.  But it was not just Florence Li-Tim Oi.  In 1971, the Anglican Church in Hong Kong ordained two women as priests as affirmed Florence Li-Tim Oi's standing as a priest.  Where were the media in 1984, or 2011, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion?

Crusty sometimes wonders if part of this discussion has to do with The Episcopal Church's reflection of American exceptionalism -- that somehow we are unique in the Anglican World and at the forefront of everything, when, in fact, the situation is far more complex and nuanced than that, and often The Episcopal Church is not the first or best or most distinctive.  For instance, there is the oft-repeated fetishization of the General Convention as the largest deliberative democratic body apart from the Indian Parliament, when this is utter hogwash, and the General Convention isn't even the largest deliberative denominational body in the United States:  the United Methodist General Conference and the ELCA Churchwide Assembly are both larger (admittedly depending on how many bishops show up for the House of Bishops). Likewise some Episcopalians seem to have an image of the Church of England liturgy being Mr Bean reading from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; when, in fact, there is arguably greater liturgical creativity and diversity in the Church of England than there in the Episcopal Church.  The Anglican Church in Hong Kong ordained women before The Episcopal Church.  The Anglican Church in Canada approved it in 1975, before The Episcopal Church did.  Hong Kong, Korea, Kenya, and Canada admitted women as deacons before the Episcopal Church, in 1968. Of course, this aspect of exceptionalism can be spun both ways; part of some conservative narratives is that The Episcopal Church charges ahead without concern as to what the rest of the Anglican world does.  The Episcopal Church was third in women's ordination.  The Anglican Consultative Council and the 1978 Lambeth Conference acknowledged that provinces could be of a different mind on this question; it wasn't something foisted onto the rest of the Communion.

B)  OK, how about another:  the narrative surrounding the nature of the ordinations themselves and their aftermath.  They were clearly irregular: the deacons did not have consents of their Standing Committees and their diocesan bishops did not delegate the ordination to the retired bishops who presided.  Of this, pretty much most accounts are agreed.  It's not as if there's anything about calling these ordinations "irregular", however, that implies any sense of their value.  It's incontrovertible they
Stay thirsty, my friends.
were irregular. But so what?  They weren't even the first irregular ordinations.  There was Florence Li-Tim Oi in 1944.  Bishop James Pike ordained a deaconness in 1964, declared he saw no difference in the ordination rites between deaconnesses and deacons, allowed the person to be called "Rev" and wear a clergy collar.  Going back to the founding of The Episcopal Church, Samuel Seabury's consecration was also considered irregular, as was his performing episcopal acts for persons not resident in Connecticut.

OK, so the fact they were irregular goes without saying.  But then there's the question of the response to that.  Some have argued The Episcopal Church "condemned" the ordinations, or somehow implied they were invalid.  The House of Bishops decried the actions of the retired bishops who presided, and modified an initial resolution declaring the ordinations "invalid" with one stating they were "irregular."  At the 1976 General Convention, the bishops again modified an initial resolution.  Originally the HOB was to consider a resolution calling for "conditional ordination" for those irregularly ordained, but in the end permitted local diocesan bishops to devise a ceremony of their own design to "regularize" the ordinations.

The real drama was not about the validity of the ordinations (they were pretty much considered valid but irregular in every official final action of the church), but rather the issue of the exercise of priestly ministry by those ordained.  It's telling that the first celebration of the Eucharist by those ordained was at the non-denominational Riverside Church, and not in an Episcopal Church.  There were more ecclesial charges filed over the irregular ordinations against Episcopal clergy who permitted celebrations of the eucharist in their churches in contradiction to pastoral directives from their diocesans than with the bishops who performed the ordinations (of the four ordaining bishops, only one resulted in an inhibition, with others censured). 

C)  And why can't the Washington 4 get no love??  Being the youngest of five children, Crusty knows well that often attention goes to those who are first.  Larry Doby doesn't get as much press as Jackie Robinson, who came up the same year as Robinson, was also a great baseball player, and endured the same
Washington 4.
racism as Robinson, but Crusty hasn't seen any movie about him, nor has he had his number retired by every single major league team.  Several accounts of the commemoration of the Philadelphia 11 didn't even mention the additional irregular ordinations.  Crusty has a fondness for the Washington 4, if only that one of them, the Rev Lee McGee, taught at Yale Divinity School when Crusty was there.  Plus, while there aren't very many good photos of the Philadelphia 11 easily accessible in the public domain, there's a good one of the Washington 4, which Crusty had framed and hangs in the seminary where he is dean...and appears to the right.

D)  Then there's the role of these ordinations in the debate surrounding the approval of the ordination of women to the presbyterate and episcopacy.  Some accounts spoke of them as "leading" to the approval of ordination of women to the presbyterate and episcopate in 1976 at the General Convention.   Many of the members themselves argued they were essential in getting the church over the hump from narrow defeats of women's ordination in 1970 and 1973 to narrow approval in 1976.  Lee McGee, who was at YDS when Crusty was there, shared with us this conviction.  One narrative is the church has been that the 1974 ordinations flowed from the 1973 General Convention's narrow defeat of approval of ordination of women.  While true that in 1973 the House of Deputies narrowly defeated the measure, in part due to the process of voting by orders, which requires, in essence, a supermajority.  The House of Bishops did not vote on it, but had indicated in informal votes that a majority of bishops were in favor.  But the nature of this "flow" to 1976 is more complex.  Crusty had another long conversation with someone who was a bishop at the time, who was wholeheartedly and vocally in favor of women's ordination, but opposed to the irregular ordinations, thinking it might, in fact, inspire backlash in 1976 in a vote that was going to be close, and that the 1976 Convention would have approved women's ordination, anyway, without the 1974 and 1975 ordinations.  Crusty's not trying to adjudicate who was right or wrong, only that the march from 1973 to 1974 to 1975 to 1976 was not as linear as laid out.

E)  Despite being in favor of the ordination of women, Crusty has always been  troubled at the precedent set in 1974 and 1975:  that one’s interpretation of Scripture and the Christian tradition permits someone to contravene the discipline of the church.  Even though supporting the ordination of women, this has troubled COD for a couple of reasons.

--It begs the question why we have Constitution and Canons at all if we enforce some but not others.  Many congregations and some dioceses openly offer communion to the unbaptized, in direct contradiction to the Constitution and Canons.  If we can ignore canons because we don’t agree with them, it leads to

--Selective enforcement of the canons based on any number of factors.  For instance, you could make a strong argument from Scripture and Tradition that we can ordain persons directly to the diaconate, priesthood, or even episcopacy, and do not need to have sequential ordination (that is, one must be ordained deacon before being ordained priest, and ordained priest before being ordained bishop).  You could argue it is a justice issue (that the transitional diaconate obscures the full and equal status or vocational deacons; that not allowing qualified lay persons to be eligible for election as bishop violates our understanding of baptism as the grounding of all ministry, and so on).  Could any bishop just ignore those canons?  Yeah right.

--Selectively enforcing canons gives us less credibility when we do bring charges against people, and can leave one at the whim of moving from one diocese to another and having what was considered OK in one diocese leaving one open to canonical discipline in another.  

Crusty doesn’t have a solution to this, he is honestly torn – supportive of the ordination of women, but always troubled by the precedent set: that if you think you’re performing a prophetic action and can marshall biblical and historical precedents, it’s OK to violate the Constitution and Canons of the church.  COD thinks if we're going to have canons, then we change the canons.  COD realizes, of course, that this question is, in a nutshell, part of Dr King's response to his clergy colleagues in Letter from a Birmingham jail who were counseling him to wait and let the process of civil rights unfold without civil disobedience.  Like Crusty says, he's torn; how to balance the place of prophetic witness and the possibility of dysfunctional canonical chaos? 

F)  Crusty is thankful, however, that many of the accounts of the commemoration of the ordinations of the Philadelphia 11 rightly point towards the future, and not just the past.  Forty years after these ordinations, despite making up more than half the population of the people of God, women account for about a third of the clergy; women also hold disproportionately fewer positions as rector, let alone as rector of larger congregations; and we have fewer women diocesan bishops now than previously.  Many if not all of the accounts covering the anniversary noted these elements.  In the 40th anniversary symposium held at Temple University on July 26, moderator the Very Rev Katharine Ragsdale of Episcopal Divinity School eloquently noted "the infuriating reality of how far we still have to go." This infuriating reality is not solely confined to issues of women's ministry, sadly.  Crusty spoke at a congregational forum a week after Gene Robinson's confirmation as Bishop of New Hampshire at the 2003 General Convention and opened with the words, "We need to spend less time celebrating and more time working to create a truly inclusive church.  Confirming Gene Robinson's election didn't solve the problem of human sexuality in The Episcopal Church."  Never mind the overwhelmingly white makeup of The Episcopal Church in an increasingly multicultural country.  The Rev Dr Carter Heyward stated something similar, noting that electing Barack Obama as president did not mean racism in America was over; likewise forty years after the ordination of the Philadelphia 11, issues of gender equality and sexism in the church are not over, and we are far from being as inclusive as we strive to be.  

FWIW, now that the official commemorations are over, these are Crusty's thoughts on remembering the anniversary of the irregular ordinations of the Philadelphia 11 to the priesthood.  Studying the past often holds up a mirror to our own context; witness the changing and disparate interpretations of everything from the American Civil War to the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Holocaust to the causes of the Great Depression.  Studying the recent past is, if anything, even more complex, without the advantage of perspective.  How we discuss the Philadelphia 11, and how the story of women's ordination in the Episcopal Church is told, is, in many ways, a mirror that reflects our current perspectives.  Which, if anything, is why it has been essential through organizations such as the Women's History Project to collect as much of the historical record as we can.  The study of the past doesn't need to be a reflection of our current projections and biases; ideally it is something which provides perspective and context.  Otherwise the study of history is just a way to get your history piece of pie in Trivial Pursuit.