Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Deeper Joy: Lay Women and Vocation in the 20th Century Episcopal Church

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Deeper Joy: Lay Women and Vocation in the 20th Century Episcopal Church

Article excerpt

Deeper Joy: Lay Women and Vocation in the 20th Century Episcopal Church. Edited by Fredrica Harris Thompsett and Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook. (New York: Church Publishing, 2005, Pp. ix, 292. $28.00.)

Professors Thompsett and Kujawa-Holbrook of the Episcopal Divinity School have compiled a fascinating collection of essays that illustrate the breadth of women's lay ministries in the Episcopal Church in the twentieth century. Reading the whole collection leaves one with a sense of admiration for the persistence, faith and imagination of women in creating and pursuing lay ministries, and a sense of dismay over the clericalism that infected the church by mid-century-a trend that increasingly emphasized ordained at the expense of lay ministry for men or women. The drive for women's ordination in the 1960s and 1970s was thus both a response to clericalism and a reinforcement of it.

The greatest strength of this collection is the opportunity the reader has to become acquainted with an amazing and talented group of faithful women who mediated between cultures, pioneered ministries, challenged the church to seek racial, social, and economic justice, and cultivated spirituality and faith among those they directed and taught. The collection displays the breadth of racial and ethnic diversity found within the Episcopal Church. Essays by Thea Browne, Michael McNally, Daniel Velez-Rivera, Gardiner Shattuck, and Diane Wong all explore the complex racial lines that complicated the ministries pursued by women of color.

The collection commendably uses a broad definition of ministry, and is organized topically rather than chronologically. The stories of deaconesses, religious orders, professional church workers revealed time and again the uneasy accommodations that the institutional church made while utilizing the gifts women brought as administrators, educators, missionaries, nurses, and social workers. …

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