Our Mother, Which Art in Heaven?

The debate over the role of women in the Anglican church continues to rage in the UK. A historical look at the role of women in Christianity is presented.

'Beloved, our Father and Mother in whom is heaven'. So begins the Lord's Prayer in a feminist prayer book called Women Included and published last autumn by that venerable Anglican institution, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Hardly surprisingly, this offering from an ultra-radical feminist group calling itself the St Hilda Community was quickly rejected by Church of England officialdom. The Lord's Prayer in its traditional wording is for many still a sacrosanct passage of English prose. But the re-jigging of it in the cause of feminism has given extra edge to the last stage of the long and often bitter debate on the ordination of women priests, with the Church of England finally making up its mind on the issue this month.

When the mind of the general synod, the governing body of the church, was tested as recently as July, the indications were that the cause of women priests would narrowly fail. But it would be folly to be over-dogmatic about the outcome of the decisive vote.

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