Female clerics find favour with clergy
ON WEDNESDAY, the rectordesignate of the Parish of St Paul’s in Rondebosch, Reverend Reeva Mulder, listened attentively as the choir welcomed her with its rendition of John Rutter’s The Lord bless you and keep you.
In his sermon, Father Keith de Vos had noted the significance of this particular Service of Institution in that Mulder was the first black and the first female rector of St Paul’s.
It is a weighty mantle, but in her five years of ministry, Mulder has diligently honoured the pastoral routine of caring for the sick, visiting the housebound and the myriad of undiarised matters that occupy the daily life of a parish priest.
The absence of the Bishop of Table Bay, Garth Counsell – recovering from eye surgery – resulted in the serendipitous inclusion of another female cleric in the leading of the liturgy.
I was struck by the wonderful appropriateness of it all when the Reverend Cheryl Bird, in her chirpy, upbeat manner, asked Mulder if she was able to commit to “joyfully provide for the frequent celebration of the Holy Eucharist”.
Mulder responded, in the discernible tone of the school teacher she had once been, with a clear and.firm, “With God’s help, I will.”
Last year, the Anglican Church in Southern Africa (ACSA) celebrated the 25th anniversary of that momentous day in Mbabane, Swaziland when it took the synodical decision to ordain women to the priesthood.
The appointment of Mulder this week and that of Reverend
Gaile Beckett to the Parish of Hout Bay today, signals the gradual emergence of women clergy into senior positions in the church.
The increasing presence of women in the leadership of all faith institutions will no doubt result in the qualitative enrichment of the role of religion in the public square.
The leadership of the Bishop of False Bay, Margaret Vertue, is the first-fruit example of this hope.
Patriarchy, even at its most benevolent, will only be undone by confident, mission-directed feminists – male and female – but especially and quantitatively the latter, whose calling is premised on the words of the Hebrew prophet, Micah: “What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
The values of kindness and a commitment to seek the well-being of all people in an even-handed, inclusive manner is the type of leadership refrained in the lament of Jesus over the city of Jerusalem:
“How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”
Our deliberative response to resolving the water crisis requires an involved citizenry represented in a type of leadership “that puts the interests of life and of the whole above our particular personal, group, institutional or corporate interests”.
Our sister water, as Saint Francis would have said, draws our attention to our essential neglect: of caring for the world in which we live and our failure to embrace sustainability in relation to all of creation.
Our lack of compassion is symbolised by the growing possibility of a tap, which, when opened, will not bring forth the water we anticipate and which we have taken for granted.
The nature of the distance between Bishop Lavis and Bishopscourt under one blue, dry sky is a measure of how far we are from each other. And yet it is also a guide to what Cape Town needs to do to become a truly world class, caring and compassionate city.
Sister water is ancient and flows from the wells of creation, and yet ever new as it constitutes 73% or more of the water content of a newborn baby.
She is our neglected and abandoned consciousness and moral life-spring.
“The whole idea of compassion,” says Trappist monk Thomas
Merton, “is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.”