First woman bishop in Africa. About time.

ImageToday the Anglican Communion News Service announced with great fanfare that the Province of Southern Africa had elected the first female bishop on the continent. The Rev’d Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya, 61, became the bishop-elect of Swaziland, a mere 10 years after women were approved to be deacons, priests and bishops in that province. She was elected after additional candidates were sought, since several earlier ballots failed to return a winner.

Well, forgive me if I rejoice only mutedly. I am glad that they finally recognized that a woman can lead the church. She has, by the way, been leading the town council as CEO for some time. But I wonder why it always takes so-o-o long for our church to recognize that women are people too; that women are people called by God?

Today incidentally is the feast day of St. Macrina the Younger, the older sister of Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, et al. Macrina in fact started an order of sisters long before Basil formed his monastic order, but his is the one that is known.

But much as I accept that in the 4th Century that was the way of the world, it’s hard to believe that in the second decade of the 21st Century the “enlightened” Anglican church is still so far behind that this election is a cause for wonder. This is 52 years after Sri Lanka’s Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world’s first female head of government; 46 years after Indira Ghanda was elected PM of India, the second most populous nation on earth; 43 years after Golda Meir was elected PM of Israel; and 37 years after the election of Margaret Thatcher as the first female leader of a G-8 country.

Not to mention that this is also two centuries since the church’s Bible says Mary of Magdala became the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus, and the first of the disciples to bring the ‘good news’–i.e., the Gospel–to the others.

It is even more of a disgrace that the Church of England still has not figured out a way to have women bishops, though in theory they have been allowed since 2010. This is 23 years after Barbara Clementine Harris (pictured) was elected a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Twenty-three years, CofE. Give me a break.

Good luck to the new bishop and thank God that in some corners of this benighted Anglican Communion, light is breaking. As to the Cof E, “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”


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