Event Details


New College, Edinburgh


28 April 2018 10.00


Ticket: Free

About the Event

On Wednesday 22 May 1968, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland passed a deliverance that women should be eligible for ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament on on equal terms with men.The enacting legislation brought to an end decades of campaigning and debate. It opened doors to new opportunities and challenges for women, for congregations – and for a ministry which had for centuries been exclusively male . It changed the face of the national church. After the vote, Mary Levison, who had been prominent in the final years of ‘wrestling with the church’ for recognition of women’s vocation to ordained ministry, commented ‘the Church no longer regards women as second class citizens. I hope this decision will have a liberating effect right through the Church’. In 1970, Rev Dr Ian Fraser, during a seminar on the ordination of women, asked some still pertinent questions: ‘Add a few ordained women to an unreformed ordained ministry and how much further forward are you? Add a few more laity to existing clerically-dominated structures, add a few more young people to existing senior-dominated structures – and all that you have is a face-saving operation. You fail to deal with that godly dissidence and frustration which belong, to my mind, to the Holy Spirit’s pressure to reform radically church institutions. It is when the question of the ordination of women is seen in its total context of reinheriting the whole people of God, and then seen as a dimension of the quest for the reinheriting of the whole of humanity.’

In this 50th anniversary year, the conference will celebrate that historic moment, and the manifold contributions of women in ordained ministry. It will be an opportunity to reflect on past, present and future…for the Church of Scotland, but also in the wider social, ecumenical and international contexts of a rapidly changing world. Are women truly no longer seen as ‘second class citizens’? Has the ordination of women had a liberating effect throughout the Church, and if so, what are the transformative signs of God’s promised community of women and men in church and world?

Keynote speakers include Rev Dr Margaret Forrester,and Rev Canon Dr Emma Percy*. There will be panels and lots of opportunity for sharing and discussion throughout the day.

All welcome! Refreshments and lunch are included. Ticket booking is free, but we invite a £10 donation for those who can afford it, payable on the day. The Church of Scotland Ministries Council will allow Study Leave to be claimed for the conference.

*Margaret Forrester was one of the six women whose Open Letter to the General Assembly in 1967 challenged the Kirk to come to a decision, after decades of debate and delay. She was minister of St Michael’s Church, Edinburgh from 1980 until retirement. In the words of former Moderator Dr Alison Elliot, ‘Margaret is a woman of great stature within the Church of Scotland. Her courageous leadership, pastoral sensitivity and manifest integrity have made her a popular role model throughout the Kirk.’

Emma Percy is Welfare Dean and Chaplain of Trinity College Oxford. She is a practical theologian who has recently published two books based on her doctoral research: Mothering as a Metaphor for Ministry (Ashgate 2014), and What Clergy Do: Especially when it looks like nothing (SPCK 2014), she is currently the chair of Women and the Church (WATCH), an organisation working actively for gender justice, equality and inclusion in the Church of England.

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