Storming the Gates

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you will know that I have been waiting to be reinstated into licensed ministry for a long time. My last parish work was in 2005. I did not expect to be out of the cassock this long.

I have looked for parish work all over the world. There is one big obstacle: my bishop has to give me letters of good standing. In effect, he has to sign my license over to another bishop. He has not done that, and does not want to do that, but also has not met with me in the last year to discuss what I may do.

I am called back into parish ministry of some sort. I need to know if it is going to be here, in the Diocese of Fredericton, or if I may now be given letters of good standing, or if I am just out of the Anglican Church. I am insisting on knowing.

I am storming the gates. I’ve been quiet and polite long enough.

I have much to offer: I am well-read, I have the classical languages under my belt, and I am a good speaker. I like people; I like visiting people. I am always willing to look for the lost sheep, or find better pasture for the flock. I am earthy and grounded. I don’t have airs. I am not above the people, I’m just ne of them with a different role. I am not ambitious. I believe I am authentic and genuine.

I am called. That is the important part. I am called by the Lord to serve His flock, to be the sheepdog to His good shepherd.

I like my bishop. He likes me. This is a ridiculous situation.

So I am storming the gates – not to conquer, but perhaps to liberate. Perhaps to free myself, perhaps to free the church, in a small way.

Bishop Medley, first bishop of Fredericton

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23 thoughts on “Storming the Gates

  1. The Diocese has a form on its Web site to send an email to the Bishop. I suggest you encourage all who feel a concern for your ministry, regardless of affiliation or position, to send a brief polite note using this medium requesting the Bishop to meet with you at an early opportunity.

    Perhaps knowing that many have a concern for your ministry would move the Bishop to arrange a meeting with you to discuss your future ministry.

    Might this be an appropriate way to storm the gates?

    • Bill, thank you for looking at that. I have had friends and other parties write to the bishop, but I can’t seem to convince an ordained person in my own diocese (or any other diocese) to support me in this endeavour. It would be a good way to “storm the gates.” If many people sent email, he might realize that I am not some lone petitioner.

  2. Magdalena,

    Something struck me while reading this. it is in no way intended to justify or excuse the bishop holding your pastoral future hostage by refusing to transfer your credentials (deep-seated powerplay on his part?) but do you think there are others pulling the strings here within the Canadian Anglican Church hierarchy (malevolent individuals)?

    I shall continue to pray over this for you, sister, and pray fervently that the windows can be thrown open, and light and fresh air let into the stale and airless chambers of Diocessan politics.

    Blessings,

    Sarah,
    Australia.

    • I know this is the case. Another priest strongly disapproved of ordaining women here, and refused to have me as curate. There is a contingent of them who won’t go to another jurisdiction where they would be more comfortable because they would have to become tent-makers and would lose future investiture in the pension plan. Some will jump ship when they retire, as many have. I was perceived as being American, liberal, and feminist. I am not much of any of these, despite citizenship and gender.

  3. Dear Magdalena,
    Glad to hear that you are “storming the gates” for that is what you must do if you are to be heard; and no Bishop has the right to just simply go on and on and refuse to hear you. If he is your Shepherd and Father in God, as is his appointed role, then he must hear you and give you a suitable response to your request to be re-instated in active ministry within the Diocese of Fredericton, or else grant you licnese to minister in yet another Diocese of the Anlgican Church of Canada. Please know that you are in our prayers, and that it is our hope that you will succeed in this your sincere desire to return to that work and ministry to which you have been called, approved and ordained thereunto.
    +Boniface Grosvold.

  4. I don’t understand why, if he likes you, he won’t level with you.

    I have had this problem with rabbinic courts before. People are kept in limbo because they are not given clear decisions. The answer should be “no,” or “Tuesday,” or “when XYZ.” Then people can act on that information.

    • I understand that the answer sometimes has to be “not yet” or we don’t know. But five or six years of “not yet” is not a good or useful answer.

  5. As a lawyer, my first response is to file suit. I know that is not your way, but mine. My second thought was a peaceful protest. Sit in his office until he will either meet with you or set an appointment time. I would be happy to write a letter on your behalf. Let me know if there is anything I can do. You are in my prayers.

    • We did talk to a lawyer years ago, who said we had grounds for a lawsuit; such suits have succeeded in Ontario and elsewhere. I have not exhausted the possibilities outlined under our canons, which do follow Biblical principles. So I will go that route, and if I fail, well, I fail. I wish I could sit in, but the cathedral is two hours away down the Trans-Canada. I have a disabled husband who needs me at hand. He would probably send his executive assistant to come speak to me severely.

  6. Good luck to you Magdalena, as you work though this process. There must be other people in the chain of command. And, your degrees are certainly marketable, whether in teaching, counseling, hospital work, hospice, etc. Would your license from Canada have to follow you were you to apply for licensure in the U.S?

    I don’t know how anyone will ever ascend to heaven if there is no forgiveness or grace offered us. And, quite frankly I sure wouldn’t want the job of judging others (unless someone’s safety were threatened), for I’d only put myself in the position to be judged that much more severely when my time came.

    Nonforgiveness might make a very good topic for a theology research paper for someone. One would think it Godly to forgive, but apparently not by some supposed “role models.”

    Blessings to you & yours,

    • My bishop is also the archbishop for our region, which is all of eastern Canada. The primate, or national bishop hasd refused to hear us, and he doesn’t have authority over an archbishop; only the house of bishops does.

      I think the real “sin” is that I did not play the game. I did not choose a camp to follow; I was neither high nor low church. I talked back to my archdeacon (who is a priest who assists the bishop in a region of the diocese.) Divorce and remarriage were just the obvious crimes; the real crime is to be a woman in a diocese full of very conservative men.

  7. Good luck Magdalena!!! It’s time to put an end to the wondering and know once and for all. You would make a great minister. We have a new one. And even though I haven’t been to church for over a month (the pneumonia) and ladies at the church know about the pneumonia, she’s never been around or even called. It was the same when I had the c-section with Ella. No one called or came by or even brought a casserole. Things aren’t like they used to be. We need more ministers like you that want more than just the big paycheque.

    Keeping you in my prayers!

    • Well, compared to other professions requiring seven years of schooling and internships, we don’t get much of a paycheque, but that doesn’t bother me. I didn’t enter ministry for the money. There was an idea about a decade ago that we should all be professionals – doctors and lawyers and professors don’t go calling on their clients. The clients call the professional and make an appointment. The church failed to get this idea across to the parishioners, probably because ministers had never done it that way before. Being a country girl, I laughed at the notion. We aren’t doctors or lawyers; we are shepherds. The shepherd who waits for the flock to tell her when something is needed is going to have no sheep. Need I say more?

      • I wish you were in the Diocese of North Carolina where my wife and I live. I’m an Episcopal Priest (“retired”). We have an outstanding bishop (+Michael Curry). Prof. Stanley Hauerwas is in Durham at Duke. I think he’s a kind of Anabaptist/Episcopalian too. Do you know his work?
        We have priests who are women, men, straight and gay. Some are divorced and remarried.
        Since I retired I attend Friends Meetings as well as Episcopal Eucharists and often do supply ministry in Episcopal and sometimes Lutheran Churches. I’m holding you in the Light. Thanks for Anglican, Plain.

      • I know Prof. Hauerwas’s work well. I will go wherever the Lord sends me. Thnak you for your encouragement; blessings to thee.

  8. Magdelena,
    I am praying with all my heart for your Bishop. I feel strongly that there is a parish needing you and that everything needs to be all put in order so that you can be free to serve them.
    I’m not sure whether it is to be an Anglican parish or some other pasture, but I feel the Lord has particular lambs in mind for you,
    Praying….praying…

    (also humming Matchmaker, Matchmaker…)

    Leslie

    • And who is the yentle to make the match? Find me a find, catch me a catch…(And I don’t want a bishop who has a temper, who will beat me every night – but only when he’s sober…)

  9. Magdalena, I sincerely hope that this matter will be solved so that you at least get a straight answer.

    When I found this blog I felt like a UFO within my own church and I could really relate to you and your choice to dress plain and wear a head covering. I was really helped to find peace through this blog and to make my decisions about these issues. I could also see that what I felt was compatible with my view of women being able to be ministers and of men and women in general. I have never said so out loud but I am truly thankful and I am sure god helped me by sending me to your blog and to the community here. I don’t think I could have chosen to cover fulltime if I had not found this blog and each time I get questioned for my choices would have found it much harder. I could probably say many more true,nice things about you but this is all my slightly inhibited Scandinavian personality can handle at the moment…

  10. “I can’t seem to convince an ordained person in my own diocese (or any other diocese) to support me in this endeavour.”

    My apologies if I’m wrong, but I find it very hard to believe that you wouldn’t be able to find any ordained person in the diocese of Fredericton to support you. Have you spoken with Rev. (name), or Rev. (name)?

    • I edited out the names you suggested for privacy reasons. The first person has refused to speak to me in public, even though as the senior cleric, it was up to that person to do so. The second person is someone I do not know. The first person is under obligation to act as chaplain to clergy in the diocese, but in my experience has rarely done so.

  11. y support from “way down south” is coming a little late, but here it is anyway: I trust and pray that your very difficult situation will be sorted out soon. I agree – the bishop should be honest with you – his own standing in the Church of Christ makes that a moral imperative, in my opinion.

    And I’d like to echo Elin’s remarks. Thank you for making me feel less like a UFO – like her, I feel that God led me to your blog.

    The Anglican Church needs your plain witness.

    Jane (Pretoria, South Africa)

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