The Philadelphia Ordinations

  As Told by One of the Women Ordained to the Priesthood that Day

July 29, 1974~   the Feast of Saints Mary and Martha
Note: Lectionary painting of "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary" is by the artist, Jan Vermeer van Delft, 1654.
To see 40th anniversary additions, please go to 
To see a 40th anniversary tribute to Bishop Barbara Harris in celebration of the 25th anniversary year of her consecration~
To order the graphic art card or wall hanging of "Bakerwoman God"~  
To listen to the music of "Bakerwoman God"~

To order Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey or any other of Alla's titles, signed on request, see   If you don't find a book you want, contact the owner, Susan Lind-Kanne, on the Bear Blessings Contact page and she will see to it that you receive your selection. Alla's complete bibliography can be found at {}

See the breadth of ordained women in the Episcopal Church
in this good chronology going back to 1855:


The Rev. Alla Renée Bozarth, Ph.D. 


   Inspired by “Mountain Moving Day,” 1911,

    by the Japanese Feminist Poet, Yosano Akiko.

There is a new sound
of roaring voices
in the deep
and light-shattered
rushes in the heavens.

The mountains are coming alive,
the fire-kindled mountains,
moving again to reshape the earth.

It is we sleeping women,
waking up in a darkened world,
cutting the chains from off our bodies
with our teeth, stretching our lives
over the slow earth—

Seeing, moving, breathing in
the vigor that commands us
to make all things new.

It has been said that while the women sleep,
the earth shall sleep—
But listen! We are waking up and rising,
and soon our sisters will know their strength.

The earth-moving day is here.
We women wake to move in fire.
The earth shall be remade.

Alla Renée Bozarth 

Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey, first edition Paulist Press 1978; revised edition Luramedia 1988, distributed by Alla Bozarth at Wisdom House; and Stars in Your Bones: Emerging Signposts on Our Spiritual Journeys by Alla Bozarth, Julia Barkley and Terri Hawthorne, North star Press of St. Cloud 1990; and the audiocassette, Water Women, Wisdom House 1990.

"Call" has been put to powerful music by composer Joan Szymko for Aurora Chorus in Portland, Oregon, and was premiered at a concert in 1997 and reprised at the International Women's Day "Dare to Be Powerful" concert in 2015. 

To order the tape, Water Women, or the revised edition of Womanpriest, write to and add "Order  Womanpriest" or "Order Water Women." To request permission to reprint, write to the same address and type "Permission to Reprint" in the subject line. The poet will respond with details. Order Stars in Your Bones at your favorite Internet bookstore.  

Composer/Conductor Joan Symko's choral setting of "Call" by Alla Bozarth was performed by Aurora Chorus in the Portland, Oregon area at these concerts:

1.    "Circle Me Sisters," premiere performance, Aurora Chorus Fifth Anniversary concert, February 1997.  
2.    "The Beauty of Your Dreams"  Aurora Chorus spring concert, May 2005.
3.   "To Sing is to Fly,"  Aurora Chorus spring concert, May 2010.
4.   "Dare to Be Powerful," Aurora Chorus International Women's Day concert, Sunday, March 8, 2015.  
Aurora reprised their 2010 performance at a Sisters Singers Network choral festival in Chicago in July of that year.

A Fortieth Anniversary addition:

For antidotes to ongoing sexist liturgical language overload, visit these places and refresh your soul:

It  always seems impossible, until it's done. Nelson Mandela

And It All Began Here~

On the morning of July 29, 1974, my lifelong friends, the Rev. Andrew Rank and the Rev. Barnabas Hunt, founding members with my father, the Rev. René Malcolm Bozarth, of the Society of St. Paul, were having breakfast with dozens of other religious in monastic silence at York Minster refectory during the annual Conference on Religious Life. American Sisters of St. Helena, among whose deeply gifted members were several deacons awaiting a breakthrough for the ordination of women to the priesthood, were also present at the Conference. Many Sisters and Brothers from various English and American religious communities were there, and it was by then well-known among them that plans were underway for an ordination service in Philadelphia. Several of the Sisters of St. Helena had gone out to find a morning newspaper. The monastic silence was broken when the doors to the refectory burst open and the Sisters rushed in waving the newspapers, joyously announcing, "They did it! They did it!" With five hours difference in time zones, the English press broke the news with the rest of the major newspapers of the world of an event in Philadelphia which had happened on the day before, on July 29, 1974, the Feast of Saints Mary and Martha.

Collect for the Feast of Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany:

Generous God, who gave us Jesus Christ, who in turn enjoyed the friendship and hospitality of Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany: Open our hearts to love you, our ears to hear you, and our hands to welcome and serve you in others, through the Risen Christ who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

You can read the moving lessons for the day here:


At the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia 
on July 29, 1974, 
Feast of Saints Mary and Martha, 
Eleven Episcopal Women Deacons  
Were Ordained the First Women in the Episcopal Priesthood.


The Philadelphia Inquirer/ William F. Steinmetz, July 30, 1974.
Reprinted with permission from The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
Click on the image to view it enlarged.
This photograph, which was picked up worldwide, shows the women deacons at the communion rail during the part of the service in which the ordaining bishops ask them questions regarding their preparation for the priesthood. Standing left to right are the Rev. Deacons Alison Cheek, Suzanne (Sue) Hiatt, Marie Moorefield [Fleischer], Alla Bozarth-Campbell [Alla Renée Bozarth], Betty Bone Schiess, Jeannette Piccard, Merrill Bittner, Emily Clark Hewitt, Carter Heyward, Katrina Welles Swanson and Nancy Hatch Wittig. Within minutes, each of us would kneel to feel a bishop's weighty hand upon our heads as he pronounced the words ordaining us to the Sacred Order of Priests in the Apostolic Succession.
In this photograph, Barbara Harris stands with the bishops as bishops' chaplain and cross bearer (crucifer) who had led the liturgical procession. She was the senior warden (head lay person) at the Church of the Advocate at the time and had flown back to Philadelphia from an Urban League conference in San Francisco, specifically to be able to participate in the service. She would later be ordained to both the diaconate and priesthood, and on February 11, 1989, she was consecrated as the first female bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion. She served as the Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts until her retirement in 2003, and in her mid-eighties she continues an active ministry, traveling to preach or officiate at special events around the country, and participating in the consecration rites of new bishops. In the picture above, Bishop Robert (Bob) DeWitt, recently resigned bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, stands in the back row and can be identified by his profile. Next to him stands the retired bishop of the Diocese of West Missouri,  Edward Randolph Welles II, in his mitre (tall mitred hat), and next to him, Bishop Antonio (Tony) Ramos of the Episcopal Diocese of Costa Rica who did not ordain any of the women, but came in support of the ordinations. Seated in a chair directly in front of Bishop Welles and out of view in this photograph is Bishop Daniel (Dan) Corrigan, who is reading aloud the Ordination Rite questions regarding the women's preparedness for being ordained to the priesthood. Looking closely, though I cannot see Bishop Corrigan, I think I see the back of Barbara Harris' head inclined slightly, as if holding the book for him from which to read the Ordination Rite.
Before, during and since her years in Boston as Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts, Barbara Harris, along with Bishop Robert DeWitt, who had resigned from his position as Diocesan Bishop of Pennsylvania in order to organize and participate in the Philadelphia Ordinations, Bishop Edward Randoph Welles II, Katrina Swanson's father and ordaining bishop and the retired Bishop of the Diocese of West Missouri, and Bishop Daniel Corrigan, retired Bishop of the Diocese of Colorado and lifelong human rights activist, and the Philadelphia Eleven ourselves, remained spiritually bonded and rooted in our shared day,  July 29th 1974 at the the Church of the Advocate. A fourth bishop who did not ordain was present to stand with the ordaining bishops, knowing that they would doubtless need support within the House of Bishops, and indeed they did. The Rt. Rev. Antonio (Tony) Ramos, in-office bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Costa Rica, stood by as witness in the sanctuary. Bishop Ramos had been a seminary classmate of Sue Hiatt who had organized the women, since she knew all of us and the likelihood of our readiness to present ourselves for ordination to the priesthood, not only because we were fully called and prepared to be priests, but under the circumstances, as an act of historical breakthrough and witness. We all felt that Tony's presence was equally in support of the ordaining bishops and of the women who became priests that day.

 Eldest of the three ordaining bishops, Edward Welles,
stands tallest in the center
and to his right (our left) stands Bishop Antonio Ramos
in solidarity, but not actually ordaining any of the priests to be.
We are still wearing our stoles across the left shoulder, deacon-style.
After becoming priests we wore them over both shoulders
hanging down the front with side panels at equal length.

  Time Magazine August 12, 1974
Episcopal Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia
Administering the Sacrament of Holy Communion are new priests among those later referred to as the Philadelphia Eleven. Left to right: Merrill Bittner, Alla Bozarth-Campbell, Emily Hewitt and Marie Moorefield. At the altar stands one of the three ordaining bishops, Daniel Corrigan top left, with Bishop Antonio Ramos who came from his Diocese of Costa Rica to be present in support of some of the ordinands with whom he'd attended seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and especially to offer support to his three brother bishops who were taking such a leap forward from custom by ordaining these women to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church, an act which would bring tremendous criticism from their colleagues and countless others. See the critically acclaimed 2014 book, The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven by Darlene O'Dell.
The following two paragraph account is an excerpt from a 2006 interview, "A Conversation with Alla."
"The Church of the Advocate is a beautiful French Gothic gray stone structure with a traditional bright red painted wooden door. It was completed in 1897, the year my paternal grandmother, my personal childhood hero, was born in Henry, Illinois. From the beginning, the church had been integrated and always made a stand for Civil Rights and all matters of liberty and justice. It was anchored in the heart of a low income section of African American inner city Philadelphia in 1974. The parishioners and rector of the Church of the Advocate, Paul Washington, opened their doors to us white women when no one else would. Our gratitude is boundless for their gracious and welcoming willingness to host the event, yet another historical landmark in their long history of living the Social Gospel.  Their hospitality would continue over decades as we returned to celebrate our tenth, fifteenth and twenty-fifth anniversaries. The twentieth celebration took place at the Philadelphia Cathedral of the Savior while the Church of the Advocate was closed down for repairs. In a real sense the Church of the Advocate is our own shelter and home, and we can never thank its people enough.

"Before the service began we were organizing ourselves for the procession in the vesting area. We had expected the congregation to be small because until two weeks before the service it had been kept in strict secrecy. The news, however, had been leaked to the press. We couldn't see but we could hear what happened next in the church proper. We heard a roaring noise but did not know what it was. Paul Washington had gone out to greet those present and when he came back to cue us with a huge grin on his face and and we all looked puzzled and concerned, he said that he had welcomed the congregation (including dissenters who would speak for 15 minutes in a place kept for them in the service) . . ."
Recently I received a recording of about 45 minutes of the three hour service, thanks to a friend of Merrill Bittner and Merrill's generosity in sending each of us a copy. Though I've had it since summer following our 40th anniversary celebrations, I am listening to it for the first time on Epiphany, past midnight and into Russian Orthodox Christmas Day on January 6th and 7th, 2015. What follows will be a direct transcription as I listen carefully to every word, tone and sound of our ordination service. There are ellipses where the sound is muffled and the words are unclear. It will take me some time to play the lines over and be sure of them. I am, in the process, transported again to the Day, and also lifted out of time itself into the world of Eternal Mystery. I have never stopped feeling the reverberations of our ordinations. The drama and trauma of the day, beginning several days before as we Eleven were alone together and freely expressing our trepidation, our hope, our uncertainty,  some of us speaking tearfully under the burden of decision, hearing each other, supporting the varied feelings and perspectives among us. Then, the overwhelming, stifling hot, emotionally intense three hour service, and all the waves of reaction, positive and negative, that followed for weeks, months, years, yes, decades~ I felt and still feel thrown out of normal spacetime, a priest at large among people of all faiths and even those without a faith who are nevertheless moved by our ordinations and the courage, I suppose, of stepping out of pace with slow institutions when justice and spirit demand it. After the House of Bishops voted to declare our ordinations irregular and began a campaign of pretending they never happened, hoping to ignore us away, I said to a fellow priest, "Where are we to find ourselves, then, if we are not considered priests in communion with our own Episcopal Church?" He answered, "You are with the rest of us, in the communion of the Apostolic Succession." Yes. That was true. It was a good place to be! And as a priest, I remain there forever, in that niche in the heart of the Great Communion. At the same time, I am glad to have remained an Episcopal priest in good standing, at least, from the hierarchy's point of view, after if not before General Convention acknowledged our ordinations in September 1976, and we were both joyously and reluctantly welcomed into the fold as priests after January 1977. I love being who and what and where I am.

To continue the narrative: The rector of the Church of the Advocation, Paul Washington, found his way through the crowd to the front of the church where he welcomed the congregation and briefly described the magnitude of  our actions. He described how the Church, by its fear of change and its rigid adherence to anachronistic customs, had failed to act when action was called for.

"We are . . . acutely and painfully aware of the fact that the holy Church has compelled us to act at a time which is considered to be untimely. The dilemma is, what must one do when the democratic process . . . and the legal guidelines are out of step with the Divine Imperative which says, Now is the time? What is a mother to do when the doctor says 'Your baby will be born on August the 7th,' when on July 29 she has reached the last stages of labor pains? . . . [loud cheering in the background] It can cause great inconvenience as well as trouble. It would not, however, be an occasion for suing the doctor, for getting a divorce, nor for punishing the child for arriving ahead of time. . . . We are fully aware that in this instance there is a diversity among us. May we sincerely respect each other in this diversity, and pray that it will not be an occasion that leads to disunity. We shall never be the same after this day. . . . May we see this as a day which God has made. May we rejoice and be glad in it. May we accept the rightness of this action, and the call of God in its timing. May we accept the justice of this action. . . . May we accept the Spirit of Light . . . May we praise God and uphold those who, this day, in obedience to God, are responding through this action. . . . Shortly the procession will begin." The organ began the opening prelude to the hymn as people turned to the page in their hymnals and began, and then the congregation began to sing, Come Labor On. Then for the second time we heard a very loud noise. Paul Washington came back to us in the sacristy, grinning. We asked what the  sound was just as he came in. He said, "What you heard was the roar of 2,000 people laughing, cheering and clapping!"

Later, Dr. Charles Willie, lay Vice President of the House of Deputies, began his sermon with a prayer that concluded, "Mercifully grant that in this service we may be a medium of Thy message. Amen."   He continued with a passage from Scripture:

The hour cometh and now is when when the true worshipers shall worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

"This is the hour of truth. Martin Buber would describe it, 'this is a living moment of truth which stands between creation and redemption.' But let us not make too much of it, because Martin Buber tells us that creation takes place not only at the beginning, but at every moment throughout the whole of time, and that redemption takes place not only at the end, but at every moment throughout the whole of time. So let us make not too much of this hour, for we live in an unredeemed world. Nevertheless, there is reason to rejoice, even in the face of the deep human sorrow which we cause, for we have come together as part of the continuing process of creation. We have come together also as part of the continuing process of redemption. Moreover, we believe, as Buber has said, that out of each human life that is not arbitrary and bound to the world, a seed of redemption falls into the world, and the harvest is God's. May God bless the harvest of this moment so that it will be not a high moment in the history of the Episcopal Church, but a holy moment in time. . . . "

During the service, several (male) priests expressed their opposition to the ordinations. One of them later became a Roman Catholic. Another among them had been the cantor at my ordination to the diaconate three years earlier at the downtown Portland (then) Cathedral of St. Stephen in the Diocese of Oregon. I'd known him since I was nine years old when he was not yet ordained as a deacon or priest.  

More importantly, Dr. Charles Willie, Harvard sociologist and first African American to be elected as Vice President of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies, preached a sermon with the prophetic power of biblical times, in which he described the ordinations as obedience to Divine Spirit and an act of tender loving defiance. He gave us our charge of faithfulness to the twofold calling to be both priests and change agents, the demanding dimensions of which we were to realize only in the future unfolding of our ministries. The inspiration of his words has strengthened me through challenging and sometimes hurtful times through the years and still reverberates in my mind and spirit . The entire text of his sermon is printed in the first edition of my book, Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey, Paulist Press, 1978. [see]  Against my protest, the publisher of the 1988 revised edition {with three new chapters in an epilogue called, "Dancing Under Burning Stars,"} omitted the important historical text to save cost. That error of judgement will be corrected and Dr. Willie's sermon restored in the third edition of Womanpriest, pending funds for publication.

What remains a fact that cannot be undone, and that has blessed countless people in and beyond the church, inspiring them to wake up to how Spirit is calling them to live their own lives, is that on July 29, 1974, the beautiful and historic Church of the Advocate in Inner City Philadelphia, a predominantly black parish, opened its doors to take us in and shelter us from the storm of opposition, and we eleven became Episcopal priests.

Full of embracing Grace and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the prayer-infused stones themselves were borne into their present form by inspired vision and consummate skill. This French Gothic structure on West Diamond Street is a wondrous blend of a black and white, living color congregation and history, with the gray of traditional European Gothic architecture proving to be a stunning backdrop for vibrant, color-rich contemporary African art.

The Advocate was a solid edifice and launch pad for us, and the rector Paul Washington and the people of the congregation were Spirit-filled hosts. Living up to their name, the clergy and congregation were true to their more than hundred years of community outreach, social justice and sensitivity to liturgical and spiritual integrity. Strong advocates of civil rights and now women's rights, they continue today in a resurrection spirit of renewal to be Easter People.

The Church Banner was created by the great 
African American Liturgical Artist, 
Allan Rohan Crite. 

Christ and St. Joan

There were bomb threats and later there were death threats and physical and verbal attacks on us. Security was heavy. We did not expect the crowd, about a third of it consisting of national press people. During a part of the service when we were lined up at the altar rail facing our three courageous ordaining bishops, there was a loud metallic sound. Martin Luther King's mother, Alberta King, had been shot to death a month earlier while sitting at the organ during a church service. Knowing that sometimes a person can be shot and not feel it, I looked down to see if there was a red stain on my white alb, then looked right and left (I am the smallest one in the picture from The Philadelphia Inquirer, fourth from left). We were all still standing and the only red on our chests was on the liturgical stoles that were draped across our white albs. No one breathed for a few seconds, then the service continued. Afterward, we were told that an NBC television camera had fallen over onto the stone floor of the transept.

Except for the pictures of my Oregon ordination to the diaconate, the following pictures during the Philadelphia service were taken by Anne Ziesmer, a friend from the Diocese of Minnesota. In the turmoil of the event she did not notice that her camera battery was low. I'm including them because their effect expresses how we felt. The church was positively charged with the Holy Spirit~ We are entering the chancel from the side door to the transept.
Just right of center with her hand raised in front of her is the Rev. Katrina Swanson, with her husband George Swanson on her left. I (Alla) am just behind her with my husband and priest presenter, Phil Bozarth-Campbell, behind me, and his mother, my lay presenter, Betty Campbell on his right.The Rev. Phyllis Edwards is in the left foreground. 

Phyllis Edwards was well-known for having been unequivocally and publicly recognized as a deacon by Bishop James Pike. She had been ordained to the diaconate by the Bishop of Olympia (Western Washington) in 1964. In 1965 she was called to serve in the Diocese of California. To introduce her to the diocese and celebrate her ordination the year before, Bishop Pike officiated at a formal ceremony  in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, where he announced to one and all, She is a fully ordained deacon, a clergywoman, and is to be regarded as such. And then he sent her to represent the diocese in the 54 mile Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

This straightforward declaration challenged the Church to consider the lack of integrity in its language and attitude regarding all women, lay and ordained. Five years later, the first women were finally given voice and vote in the Episcopal church's triennial General Convention. The first thing the women did in 1970 was to call for a vote to eliminate the sexist canon on "deaconesses," and make it clear that women were already included in the canon on the diaconate. The resolution passed easily. The next thing was to call for a vote to affirm women's ordination to the priesthood and episcopacy as well. It failed by a surprisingly narrow margin. In 1973, it failed by a greater margin, the opposition having had time to campaign against women in the priesthood. There was no canon law prohibiting women from being priests or bishops. Only the actual exclusionary practice needed to be changed . . . by the creation of a fait accompli.

Two years after we eleven women had been ordained as priests, in 1976, presented with the fait accompli, General Convention passed a resolution stating that no one could be denied ordination on the basis of sex.  The canon laws were also carefully scrutinized to eliminate ambiguous language that could be interpreted prejudiciously. In the words of Nelson Mandela, "It seems impossible until it happens." When these strangely ethereal pictures were taken, it was about to happen. Three bishops would lay their hands on our heads and ordain and set us apart to serve others as Christ's priests forever.  

Phyllis had wanted to present herself for ordination to the priesthood with us, but she decided against it when she realized that she would lose her job as a San Francisco deacon in the Diocese of California, and as sole support of her elderly mother, she couldn't risk it. George Swanson told me this on May 11, 2012 after both Katrina and Phyllis had died. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but Katrina was very much aware, and deeply sympathetic toward Phyllis. Knowing that now makes these strange, oddly luminous pictures all the more meaningful . . . and touching.        

Phyllis Edwards had wanted to be a priest since childhood. Her longing would at last be fulfilled when Bishop John (Jack) Spong ordained her a priest in the Diocese of Newark on June 29, 1980. She died at the age of 92 in 2009. Katrina, who took Martha as her priestly ordination name after her baptismal name of Katrina, would die in 2005, following Jeannette Piccard in 1981 and Sue Hiatt in 2002. Her husband George arranged for as many of her Philadelphia Eleven sister priests as could come to co-officiate with the Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, the first woman bishop of Maine, at Katrina's life celebration and burial a year later in 2006. It was a vision come true, for Katrina, with George and their son William and daughter-by-marriage, Helene, had created a worldwide movement called Katrina's Dream, Promoting the Full Inclusion of Women in Society.
In the next picture below, Katrina is embraced by the Rev. Frances Zielinski, director of Central House for Deaconesses [sic], that is, Women in the Diaconate, where I lived during my undergraduate years at Northwestern University and while studying for ordinations. I had met Phyllis when she came to visit Frances there.  As time moved on, we would share many significant moments, first at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, and then as reactions to the ordinations began, the most memorable being the House of Bishops emergency meeting at O'Hare airport a few weeks after the ordinations. 
Phyllis and I sat side by side with our backs to the wall that was nothing more than a thin partition in a large room where we female priests were on one side and male bishops on the other. We heard the anger in their voices. No doubt they were disgruntled at having their vacations interrupted.
That August day at O'Hare, we listened carefully. They were, in fact, furious with our ordaining bishops, Dan Corrigan, Bob DeWitt and Edward Welles. Right away, their strategy was being set in place~ to ignore the existence of the women priests and to chastise male clergy who supported us, beginning with the bishops who had ordained us. This same response would happen when Bill Wendt and Peter Beebe invited us to celebrate the Eucharist in their parishes. At O'Hare, the bishops didn't know that such events would happen, but their practice of vilification against our bishops prepared them to come down hard on those brothers in Christ who practiced, in the words of Dr. Willie, "tender loving defiance." In other words, they did the right thing as they understood it by the measure of their consciences, no matter the price. 

It is commonly thought that the meeting resulted in the House of Bishops declaring us invalid. Not so. They did that at first, but they were stopped short and forced to rescind that judgment when theologian Bishop Arthur Vogel said (I paraphrase from memory), "We can't declare them invalid. No matter how much we dislike the route they chose, which was to by-pass specific technical requirements of canon law such as obtaining the approval of their diocesan standing committees, and to move forward without our consent, we have to look at what happened: Bishops in the Apostolic Succession laid their hands on the women deacons' heads and said the words from the Ordination Rite in The Book of Common Prayer to make them priests. That was sufficient to satisfy the theological requirements for receiving the sacrament of ordination according to the traditional rite."

The bishops were somewhat subdued by this voice of reason, and began a discussion of "What, then if not invalid?"

Someone pointed out that they could dismiss the ordinations by using the canons. From the standpoint of canon law, there had been a breach in the sequence of requirements which amounted to a failure to comply. Even though we attempted to gather signatures on testimonials and obtain appointments or approval from our Standing Committees as canon law specifies, though some succeeded in most of the points, none of us could obtain the recommendation of our Standing Committees who simply deferred the matter of women priests to the next General Convention, without sense of the barriers built in to the legislative process by a voting technicality that was meant to defeat controversial measures. Nor did the ordaining bishops obtain the consent of their brother bishops to do what they did. Therefore, it clearly could be argued that the ordinations were irregular, first on the basis of non-compliance with canon law which required the ordinands to obtain the written consent of their local diocesan Standing Committees, and second, because the House of Bishops had not given their brother bishops collegial consent to ordain women to the priesthood. If we Eleven had been disobedient, the Bishops Three were outright renegades. 

We heard every word that was said, every nuance, every emotion, every thought, every shift in thought and mood. As the bishops were leading up to virtually pounding a gavel and as a body shouting out, "Invalid! Invalid!" I began to become increasingly anxious. And then, it happened. We women were completely dismayed, hearing all reason and dignity among the male bishops flee as they ran themselves headlong into an irrational conclusion regarding our validity. I said to Phyllis, "They are trying to undo two thousand years of the theology of ordination." (Some would say that's what we were doing, but instead we were undoing thousands of years of misogynist custom and policy which had little to do with theology. We knew the distinctions very well, and fortunately, there was one bishop other than our Three who knew and articulated the distinctions.) I was reeling with dismay. But Phyllis shook her head and said,"They can't do that. They can't." And then, Bishop Arthur Vogel led his brothers back to the facts, back to reasonable thinking, back to what they knew to be true. 

They were still angry, but they were satisfied that they had soundly scolded their brother bishops for what was perceived to have been their egregious infraction of protocol and, in their collective mind, for over-stretching episcopal powers and privileges. Collegiality was restored with the declaration that the ordinations were irregular. We couldn't argue with that, from a strictly legalistic point of view. But we didn't know how far the bishops would go to prevent us from functioning as priests in the Episcopal Church until their agreed upon decisive determinant: the will of General Convention two years later. The bishops' recourse to using Godly Admonitions to control us and any clergy in solidarity with us would begin a systemic polarization in which The House of Bishops said No to what we and our ordaining bishops and supporters perceived to be God's Yes. We held on in faith that all of that would be corrected.   
When the O'Hare meeting was adjourned, Phyllis and I felt that we'd been present through an old fashioned wild west showdown. We were exhausted, but knowing within ourselves that the Holy Spirit would not abandon this process, we calmly watched as the bishops came hurrying through our area and out, to get back on airplanes and resume their vacations. They knew we were there. They'd known all along. None of them looked our way as they filed past. 

As for the Eleven and later the Four, shunning was to be our punishment. To be shunned is more than to be trivialized. It is a form of psychological torture whose goal is to make the shunned person feel invisible, inaudible, and finally non-existent. Shunning is ultimately demoralizing.

It did not necessarily have that effect on us. We focused elsewhere, perhaps ignoring the angry bishops in kind, but not to punish them, simply to not allow them to impede God's call as we experienced it so deeply in our lives and among the people we served day by day. And most of us were too busy responding to the flurry of communications we received to concern ourselves with being ignored. 

I for one was grateful for benign neglect. When the House of Bishops sent a bishop to meet with us a few times in the next year, ostensibly to provide us with pastoral care, we felt the burden of having our lives interrupted by a seemingly purposeless intrusion. If we were expected to use a bishop as our group therapist, that did not happen. If we were expected to discuss our experiences, that didn't happen either. Neither the bishop, who was nice enough, nor the women, who were too busy for this aimless attempt to shepherd us, knew what the point of those meetings was. 

       In Womanpriest, I wrote about an incident in which the dean of the local seminary displayed his fury at Phyllis's picture being in The Chicago Tribune. She was shown in vestments and officiating at a wedding in Berkeley. The article erroneously said that she had blessed the marriage, an act that is liturgically performed by priests but not by deacons. Of course Phyllis would have known that and solemnized but not blessed the marriage in a formal way.  The dean spent my interview hour with him that morning by pacing back and forth in his office and punching the newspaper with his fist saying rhetorically, "Do you think I want more women in this seminary after this debacle? Who does she think she is!" 

I was shocked. I'd never seen a grown man in a professional context have a full-blown prolonged temper tantrum before. He finally looked at me and said, "Why don't you come back in four years and we might reconsider you." That was that. I had moved 2,000 miles from home on the basic of having been accepted by both Northwestern University and the seminary across Lake Shore Drive from the university to work toward a Ph.D. and a Master of Divinity degree simultaneously within a five year period. The dean reneged on the acceptance and dismissed me. Since his voice had bellowed down the hallways, the assistant dean had heard everything. He was doubtless embarrassed. Frances Zielinski had accompanied me to the interview, and as we left, he intercepted us in the hallway and said, "Don't worry. The other faculty members and I will give you our syllabuses to follow and you are welcome to use the library. You'll be able to take the canonical ordination exams easily." 

His kindness carried weight and it carried me through. Frances and I walked back to Central House and each collected our thoughts over an early glass of sherry.   

The faculty did help me, and the librarian was welcoming and gracious. The hidden gift in the situation is that I was able to study on my own and pass the canonical exams in much less time than the three year long seminary program. At the end of three days of written exams followed by an oral exam, the Oxford-educated priest who was head of the Examining Chaplains Committee in my Diocese of Oregon told me that I'd done better than the three men who had been examined before me who were already priests. "You have endured the trial by fire, and we welcome you to the tribe," he said. 

There was a delay of one year, however, before my actual ordination, because the anachronistic canon on women in the diaconate (then called by the diminishing term, "deaconesses") had just been ousted and replaced by a more authentically worded canon law, and my bishop wanted it to be certain "under which canon" I would be ordained. I appreciated the intention whole-heartedly.

Menace to Mankind

Hey, Sister Womanperson,
do you know that they
have tried 
to degrade us
with suffixes?

I mean, are you on to the system
of the English language
that's been used
to put us down?

They call us
sometimes priestess
(try mini/stress)

"ess" means pay her less,
respect her less

more likely
(add your own,
ad infinitess)

It's the fakey esses
meant to make us less
and compromise us
that do us in,
betray us,
'cause esses ain't real,
esses is false,
in English, they ain't
no such thing

'cept where you want
to distinguish men
from menesses,
which we do seem to be,
don't we, to the proper
society of manunkind—

    Alla Renée Bozarth

This poem is in Gynergy, published by Wisdom House in 1978.

A year seemed excessive to make the point, but he set the date for September 8, 1971, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Our Lady's Birthday). Four days later on September 12, 1971, Phil and I were married, and when we drove back to Evanston, Illinois, we moved into the married students' housing complex at the seminary.    

Phil had two years of study left. While I was completing my master's and doctoral degrees I served as deacon for the Northwestern University's Episcopal campus ministry, Canterbury Club, and its Congregation of St. Thomas á Becket. We had Eucharist on Sunday evenings in the seminary chapel. Seminary Faculty members who had helped me prepare for ordination invited me to serve as deacon at the weekday noon liturgies.  

During Holy Eucharist I administered the chalice from the end of the left side of the communion rail to the middle, and then another minister served from the middle to the right end. The dean and vice dean walked down the aisle together. The vice dean would cross behind the dean to come to my end of the rail, while the dean crossed in front of the vice dean to avoid me. I'd come back to the seminary two years ahead of his plan for me, and was already ordained. Things work out, but not always to everyone's liking. The House of Bishops' ire was tame compared to the scandalous behavior I had already observed in ecclesiastical men of authority. It didn't keep me from my calling or slow me down in responding to it. But it was distracting, and I had work to do. 

In June of 1974, the President of Northwestern University shook my hand as was customary for those receiving Ph.D. or M.D. degrees. As I stood in line on the stage, I observed that he was saying something to each graduate. I wondered what his sage advice might be. When I reached him, he shook my hand, smiled and said, "Keep moving, Keep moving." Though disappointed at the time, it's proven out over the years that he gave excellent advice. It was the perfect thing to say. 

I kept moving all the way to the Church of the Advocate and the moment in the this picture. What joy to enter the congregation and see my friends Phyllis Edwards and Frances Zielinski there, waiting for us and singing! Frances was standing next to Phyllis in the chancel and stepped forward to embrace Katrina, who then embraced Phyllis in solidarity and in recognition of her sacrifice. 

Frances had loved and supported the women deacons and candidates for ordination such as me~ old and young, through hard times and in good times also. Her gentleness and astute knowledge of Church matters made her a great ally to all of us through the long preliminary period before women became priests, and thanks to her I was privileged to meet and appreciate the full ministries of inspiring older women who had dedicated themselves to Christ in the diaconate for many years. When lay women were given voice and vote in the House of Deputies for the first time in 1970 as delegates to the Episcopal Church's legislative body of General Convention, they called for a vote eliminating the sexist canons (church laws) in which these women had been degraded by being referred to as "deaconesses," a word used to prevent them from receiving recognition of their fully ordained status, and women who had been deacons for twenty, thirty and forty years and longer were finally recognized as such. They were no longer required to wear a pseudo-nun's habit or to be celibate, among other things. I heard Frances say to her mother at Central House, "I can get married!" She had no plans to do so, but the thought of being  free to delighted her. 

The ordination rites had referred to "deaconesses" as being "set apart" for particular ministries by ordination, but before 1970 when there was so much lack of understanding about women deacons, they were in fact set aside much of the time, forgotten in remote and rough places that men would not go. {You can read more about this in my book, Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey and watch the film, Return to Hepu about the humble and tireless life and ministry of the Rev. Li Tim-Oi, ordained a deacon in Hong Kong in 1941 and a priest in 1944 during the Second Sino-Japanese War, to serve Chinese Christian refugees in Macao after the foreign Anglican priests were no longer allowed to cross the border from Hong Kong into Macao. Read more about her in the 1989 section  below and see the official website of the Li Tim-Oi Foundation here:}
Frances had campaigned, along with other women in the diaconate, to put an end to the oppressions under which women deacons had labored since the 19th century, but until lay women were included among voting clergy and laity, nothing was done to change the sexist canons. I am forever grateful to those laywomen who saw to it that the right thing was done at last, and to Frances and her contemporaries in the diaconate and those generations long dead, valiant women and heroes to those whom they served.  

The Rev. Frances Zielinski was the preacher at my ordination to the diaconate in Portland in 1971.
The picture and story of that event below were on the front page of The Oregonian the next day, September 9, 1971. The article heading is, "Episcopal Church of Oregon ordains woman as deacon to break barrier." I was ordained to the diaconate on Wednesday, September 8, and on Sunday, September 12, Phil and I celebrated our wedding. To view wedding pictures and read our story, see}

Enjoying the moment with my seminarian fiancé Phil at St. Stephen's Cathedral, Portland,Oregon after my ordination to the diaconate  on September 8, 1971, Feast of  the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Our Lady's Birthday!) Phil and I would be married four days later in the rose garden of Mt. Resurrection Monastery.  

With my father, the Rev. René Malcolm Bozarth.

The Philadelphia Ordinations brought together the stories of many courageous and generous people, men and women, lay and ordained, who were willing to make sacrifices to do what needed to be done to serve others in the best ways possible according to each one's gifts and skills. Many in the congregation had spent their lives witnessing and acting for justice, peace and civil rights, to guarantee constitutional freedom and dignity to all people without exclusion, to fight poverty, hunger and abuse consistently and creatively. The eleven to be ordained as priests and the three bishops who were to ordain them were humbled by the community of faith gathered together in what was supposed to have been a secret event, to minimize the threat of violence. Among the ordinands was the seasoned social Gospel activist Jeannette Piccard, who, as eldest among us, had been serving others longer than the rest of us, knowing full well that by serving the least, we were serving Christ, and by ignoring anyone in need we were ignoring Christ.

Jeannette Piccard (center) enters the chancel 
flanked by her tall son and her priest presenter behind her.

Jeannette Piccard had wanted to be a priest since she was eleven years old. At 79, she was the eldest and first to be ordained a priest and I was the youngest at 27. Jeannette had already made history by being the first woman to fly a hot air balloon into the stratosphere in 1934.

In the historical records Jeannette Piccard was regarded as the first woman in space. She was the first woman licensed to pilot hot air balloons in the United States, and when she piloted the plastic high altitude hot air balloon that she co-invented with her engineer husband, the Swiss space scientist Jean Piccard, they ascended 10.9 miles over Lake Erie into the stratosphere. After Jean's death in 1963, Jeanette was appointed consultant to the Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center and often lectured new classes of astronauts as well as the public. Of July 29, 1974, Jeannette said, "That day I flew higher." In 1998, Jeannette was posthumously inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.

Pilot Jeannette and Co-Inventor Jean Piccard, 1934 

Jeannette and Jean at work and play
Jeannette Piccard, priest, at Holy Communion, 1974


You are pearls.
You began
as irritants.

The ocean pushed
your small, nearly
rough body
through an undetected
crack in the shell. 
You got inside.

Happy to have a home
at last
you grew close
to the host,
nuzzling up
to the larger body.

You became
a subject
for diagnosis:
invader, tumor.

Perhaps your parents
were the true invaders
and you were born
in the shell—
no difference—
called an outsider

You were a representative
of the whole
outside world,
a grain of sand,
particle of the Universe,
part of Earth.
You were a growth.
And you did not go away.

In time
you grew
so large,
an internal
that the shell
could contain
neither you nor itself,
and because of you
the shell Opened itself
to the world.

Then your beauty
was seen
and prized,
your variety valued:
precious, precious,
a hard bubble of light:
silver, white, ivory,
or baroque.

If you are a specially
irregular and rough
pearl, named baroque
(for broke),
then you reveal
in your own
body of light
all the colors
of the Universe.
  Alla Renée Bozarth
Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey

Katrina's Dream

 On January 2, 1942, as America was beginning its role in the terrible war raging in Europe and the Pacific, this picture was on the front page of the world's newspapers. The little girl extending her hand to President Franklin Roosevelt as Prime Minister Winston Churchill waits his turn for the honor is Katrina Van Alstyne Welles who would grow up to marry George Swanson, who would become her priest presenter at the Philadelphia Ordinations. The Rt. Rev. Edward Randolph Welles II, shown here "backing up" his daughter in this auspicious moment, would ordain her 32 years later as one of the first eleven women to become Episcopal priests. On this occasion, precocious Katrina would say, "I met Mrs. Roosevelt on my birthday!" In the photograph, Eleanor Roosevelt is standing in the shadows behind Prime Minister Churchill.

 Bishop Edward Randolph Welles II
ordains his kneeling daughter, the Rev. Katrina Welles Swanson,
to the priesthood of Christ in the Episcopal Church.
The Rev. George Gaines Swanson (lower left foreground)
presents his beloved wife, and with other priests
lays hands on her to confer the power of the Holy Spirit
in this sacrament within the Apostolic Succession,
linking back to Christ through the first apostles and through all 
their successors who have been ordained by the laying on of hands.

Katrina is a fourth generation priest in a family of priests and bishops. Her great-great grandfather, the original Edward Randolph Welles, was an outstanding parish priest and missioner in the pioneer Diocese of Minnesota. According to his priest son (Katrina's grandfather) Edward Sprague Welles' moving biography, during  a June 1884 lightning storm, word arrived from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Red Wing, Minnesota announcing that Edward Welles had been elected third bishop of Milwaukee. He felt the full burden of what that might mean and resisted accepting the call. Only after weeks of relentless pressure from  respected colleagues and friends did he accept. His ministry as bishop came at a time of creative change in the Church against which there was much heated and even cruel resistance, and the new bishop learned the hazards of being more than a conventional servant of God, but an anointed change agent as well. That was exactly one hundred years before Katrina would have a similar call in June 1974, which is when we received news of the coming ordinations. She, like her ancestor, would have the humility, courage, determination and Grace for what being a change agent for Christ in an unjust world would entail. And she would also feel the burden of it, passionately so, but it would never deter her commitment. For seventeen years, the Rev. Katrina Welles Swanson served the people of bilingual  St. John's Parish in Union City, New Jersey. Her husband writes that it was  "an uphill struggle filled with love. She celebrated the Eucharist bilingually in Spanish and English and founded and led a bilingual afterschool program for over a hundred children ages 5 to 18. She served on the board of a hospital and a homeless shelter. Katrina retired to Manset, Maine in 1996."

At our ordinations, Katrina and I were the only ordinands wearing conventional chasubles. I didn't do that again, given the intense heat of late July in Philadelphia and no air-conditioning in the church, and the fact that my chasuble was made of heavy tapestry and weighed ten pounds, although I wore Phil's white cotton weave summer chasuble for our 25th anniversary, which allowed for the dervish effect in my post-communion Great Thanksgiving dance. Katrina, in a somewhat lighter brocade vestment, continued to wear her original ordination garb at our anniversaries. Here we are at our 20th, which took place at the Philadelphia Cathedral because the Church of the Advocate was closed for repairs. Katrina is full of joy and fast action.

As mentioned, after her death in 2005, her daughter-by-marriage, Hélène DeBoissière Swanson, her son William Swanson and her priest husband George Swanson founded "Katrina's Dream~ Promoting the Full Inclusion of Women in Society."  William and Hélène have taken Katrina's vision of a just society to India to work with an Indian woman priest and her bishop to incorporate women's equality throughout India as a mission of Anglican presence there. Katrina's vision and that of her family is nothing short of global transformation, initiated at the grass roots level.

Since William's sudden death, Hélène has carried on alone. This week she is asking for presence and prayers as she keeps vigil at the State Legislature of Illinois, pushing congress to sign the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, becoming the first state to do so. Without funds and at great personal cost of energy and health, Hélène presses on. She wears Katrina's mantle with faith and dignity. To learn how to help, see the website.

In addition to working for a just society with regard to the slow but sure global eradication of misogyny and the creation of full partnership between women and men everywhere, in his retirement from parish ministry George Swanson has written and composed an opera, Natural Causes, based on the true story of Victor, a prisoner who was beaten to death by guards in the State of Maine, a fact testified to by the prison chaplain and other witnesses but firmly denied by the prison coroner, who claimed that Victor of cardiac arrest caused by old age.  A DVD of the premiere performance was released on Armistice Day, 2014: "The National Religious Campaign Against Torture will offer free DVDs to its member organizations of every faith across America—to invite congregations to see Victor’s opera." The opera's premiere was very well received and is being used with the endorsement of the NAACP and other organizations to help the push for prison reform. Read more at the website.
"God is Beyond Gender"

Sermon by Katrina's and George's son William Swanson,
Christmas Eve 2012, India

 The Traditional Red Doors of a church in winter~

Opened wide in high summer . . .
This picture was taken after the service, showing my priest presenter husband The Rev. Phil Bozarth-Campbell and friends Dorothy Huyck on his right, top row, and her daughter Heather to my right. Dr. Heather Huyck later would write her dissertation in American Studies for the University of Minnesota: To Celebrate a Whole Priesthood: The History of  Women's Ordination  in the Episcopal Church. She is currently a professor at The College of William and Mary.

I do not know who the woman on my left is, but in the hurry of the moment, I saw her and pulled her into the image to complete it with her beautiful countenance and her coordinating colors. We were all swept forward and away in the white water movement immediately after the picture was taken.

Heather later organized a local group in the Diocese of Minnesota to work toward general acceptance of women in the priesthood and episcopate, which would begin to be realized by a resolution of affirmation at General Convention in 1976. For the next 34 years there would continue to be pockets of opposition in dioceses which refused to ordain women to the priesthood and episcopate, or to acknowledge and license priests and bishops who were women to function within their borders. The last of these hold-outs to catch up with the rest of the Episcopal Church was the newly reformed Diocese of Quincy, with the ordination of twelve-year deacon, the Rev. Margaret (Peggy) Lee to the priesthood on October 15, 2010. . . .

In the mid-70s, a medieval style interdict was placed on me in both the Diocese of Eau Claire and the Diocese of Milwaukee when I accepted invitations from Roman Catholic clergy and religious. I'd been asked to preach on liberation theology to begin an Advent series on that theme at the Newman Center on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison. The priest officiant graciously indicated that I was to stand beside him during the liturgy. It was so natural a thing for two Christian priests to concelebrate the Holy Eucharist that we simply did so spontaneously. That it would be a scandal for our respective hierarchies was furthest from our minds.

During the liturgy, the Episcopal chaplain of the campus Canterbury Club sat in the front pew with members of his congregation, who all received communion from me at the Roman Catholic Newman Center service because the Episcopal bishop had forbidden them to allow me to speak, celebrate or physically "set foot on church property."

We were unaware of the fact that a National Catholic Reporter photographer was present and taking pictures of the event. Four large photographs of the Roman Catholic priest side by side with the Episcopal priest holding up or blessing the consecrated bread and wine together at the altar appeared on the front page of the newspaper. This is one of them:

A few days later my bishop, Philip McNairy, called me in and asked me to tell him the name of the Roman Catholic archbishop in whose jurisdiction the service had taken place so he could write him a letter of apology. I told him the man's name was Cletus O'Donnell. Apparently having forgotten this, Bishop McNairy wrote and sent the apology to Bill Cousins, the archbishop of Milwaukee.

It worked out fine because two weeks later I spoke in Milwaukee at the Archdiocesan Sisters' Council Open Forum, and I felt covered since my bishop had apologized for me to their bishop in advance. This did not protect me, however, from a John Birch Society plant who stood up in the back of the room after my presentation. She stared at me as if pronouncing a curse while paraphrasing Shakespeare's Hamlet and John Milton, saying, “The devil uses clever words and we have heard the devil here tonight.” I whispered to the Sister on my right that it probably was time to leave. I may have used somewhat more colorful language. . . .

The discomfort came out in other unexpected and odd ways. A couple had come to ask me to provide the usual series of weekly pre-marital counseling sessions for a month and then officiate privately at their wedding. They invited me and my husband to join them at a family celebration at a restaurant that evening after the ceremony. When the bride's parents arrived, she introduced me to them by name only and then introduced Phil and rather quietly added, perhaps embarrassed that I might hear, "He officiated at our wedding." Such a lie was the more ludicrous given the fact that Phil was not even present. Doubtless she was placating the prejudice of one or both of her parents . . . at the expense of integrity, the truth and the officiant.

Such experiences were not uncommon over the next ten years and more. Perhaps more typical was the experience of being graciously invited somewhere for an event and then having the invitation succinctly withdrawn once local authorities had become aware of the plans in time to kill them. Occasionally that was so close to the scheduled event that I would arrive only to find someone standing in front of a closed door and with great embarrassment proceed to tell me what had happened. I never took these things personally since those involved had never met me, after all. I simply rolled with the punches as the saying goes. Still, it was hard on the nerves.

Harder still was the barrage of pointed disapproval and rejection from people who did know me, some of them relatives, some of them once close friends. My beloved aunt, who in retrospect deeply regrets having done this (though I'm certain it was an unconscious reflex), made it a point after my ordination to the diaconate, not even waiting for the controversial event, to introduce Phil (who was not yet ordained) and me to her friends as The Rev. Phil and Mrs. Bozarth-Campbell. That is the ultimate negation of a married professional woman~not only denying her the name she was given at birth and the professional title she had earned, but transferring the latter to her non-professional husband. It was comparable to introducing a physician and her medical student husband as Dr. Tom and Mrs. Jones.

Though I loved the television series The West Wing, I cringed every time the character of the president's wife, a medical doctor, was referred to as "Mrs. Bartlett." She was a practicing physician and yet, though her husband had his own doctor of philosophy degree and thus was her academic equal, her professional life was negated to make the president seem above her. After the series ended the actor playing her part expressed her regret, too, that she had allowed it. After all, they were otherwise shown as progressive democrats!

To people sensitive to the importance of language, such blatant  language tampering is a significant betrayal. This sort of thing demonstrates how language both expresses and reinforces sexist stereotypes. By extreme extension, it would imply that if a man were in a room with a queen, the queen should be called by her first name and the man, no matter his profession, should be bowed to and called by his formal title, whether Mister, Doctor, General, Commander, Sir or Lord so and so. Any man could assume the wrongly appropriated male prerogative of being rude and domineering toward the woman through criticism, unsolicited advice or other corrective behavior, queen or no queen, though in the days of Queen Elizabeth I, such incivility and breech of protocol would have been punishing with royal severity.  If the male ego were really so flimsy, it would have no help at all in growing stronger by this behavior, which is merely inflating. Yet, some women of previous generations were apparently so in the habit of manipulating men with obeisance and flattery that they became fearful of behavior that deviated from the practice.

In another instance, a family member had actually determined not to speak to me for three years. I found this out later, when she was speaking to me again after General Convention recognized our priestly ordinations. The impact of the snub was wasted on me since I had been so busy in those years that I hadn't noticed her silence.

Others were more blatant in their expressions of indignation. Mentally unstable strangers wrote anonymous hate mail and made anonymous hate calls, some obscene, some with death threats. Had I realized before the Philadelphia Ordinations what our lives would be like from then on, that we would not only be priests as we knew ourselves called to be, but change agents with responsibilities to history, I might not have found the necessary courage. The Holy Spirit and the not-knowing what was ahead gave me the courage, the joy and enthusiasm to say Yes, and to go on saying Yes every day of my life since then. These things weren't easy to take, but they  did not keep us from our responsibilities as priests.

On July 26, 1975, in celebration of the July 29 First Anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations, the Rev. Nancy Wittig with five other priests from among the Philadelphia Eleven concelebrated the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist at the Church of the Redeemer in Morristown, New Jersey. The New York Times published an article about the event. The parish rector, F. Sanford (Sandy) Cutler, hosted the service, and because he was fortunate to be in the Diocese of Newark where a supporter of women's ordination to the priesthood, George Ray, was bishop, and progressive activist and theologian John Shelby Spong would be coadjutor and later diocesan bishop, and supporter Paul Moore was the Bishop of New York across the Hudson, there were no legal presentments drawn against him which would have led to the humiliation and suffering of an ecclesiastical court trial in consequence, as the less fortunate male priests Peter Beebe of Christ Church, Oberlin, Ohio and Bill Wendt of St. Stephen and the Incarnation, Washington, D.C., experienced for the same generous and brave act of Christian integrity. Only recently did I happen to see this beautiful photograph of the liturgy:

Church of the Redeemer, Morristown, New Jersey, July 26, 1975,
a celebration of the first anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations.
At the altar, left to right, are Suzanne Hiatt, Jeannette Piccard, 
Nancy Wittig as chief celebrant, Carter Heyward, 
Merrill Bittner and Alison Cheek.

In the process of searching out the origin, date and location of this event, I was led to a post by Elizabeth Kaeton on her outstanding blog, "Telling Secrets," which is worth visiting because of her account of how she learned about the existence of women priests in the Episcopal Church and the effect it had on her.

Jeannette and Alla after our third anniversary celebration 
at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark in Minneapolis.

New Canon Law on Holy Orders, 1977:

Canon III, Title 9, Section 1
The provisions of these canons for the admission of Candidates, 
and for the Ordination to the three Orders: Bishops, Priests and Deacons 
shall be equally applicable to men and women.

After General Convention's affirmation of women in the priesthood in the summer of 1976, the Philadelphia Eleven and Washington Four, we of the fait accompli that prompted the affirmation, were individually affirmed as priests in our separate dioceses. Bishop McNairy concelebrated the Holy Eucharist with Jeannette and me on January 7, 1977 in the Cathedral Church of St.Mark in Minneapolis.

For some reason he also decided that we should sign the Oath of Conformity, a document ordinands sign before they are ordained, which states that they will conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.

We had already signed it twice, of course, for our ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood. When I pointed out to Bishop McNairy that only bishops sign it for the third time, he handed me the pen. I signed with my left hand fingers crossed behind my back, thinking it improper to be taking a redundant oath not at all appropriate for the occasion.

So many of our supporters had worked long and hard and with such dedication for the moment of recognition. It went far beyond two individuals and had the impact of being a recognition of the full participation in church and society of women bringing their gifts, their skills and their passionate devotion to the work which God calls each of us to do. Gifted, Spirit-filled women were in the congregation, and we in turn, were privileged not only to thank but also to celebrate them.

January 1977, Cathedral Church of St. Mark
Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Rev. Jeannet Piccard, Ph.D.
The Rt. Rev. Philip McNairy
The Rev. Alla Bozarth-Campbell, Ph.D. 
Photo courtesy of Terri Hawthorne.

On the day of our ordinations the bright red felt cloth that covered the front of the altar spelled out in rainbow color block letters one of the best passages of St. Paul from his Epistle to the Galatians (3:28): There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ. We did not process down the center aisle to our places in the choir for security reasons, and because there was no clear passage through the crowd. The Senior Warden (chief lay person) of the parish, Barbara Harris, had interrupted her agenda at a national meeting of the Urban League in San Francisco to fly back to Philadelphia so that she could carry the cross at the head of the procession, forging a pathway to lead us in.

When her plane had stopped in Minneapolis, it picked up my husband Phil. Barbara had stepped off the plane to make a call to Paul Washington, rector of the Church of the Advocate, to make sure that the service was still going to take place the next day. The bomb threats had caused hesitation about carrying out the plans in the vulnerable venue of the church, but Paul said, "Yes, the service will take place tomorrow." Security guards and the Philadelphia police would be on hand from early morning onward. They found a stink bomb in the back of the church and removed it, but no other bomb was found.

By the time Barbara got back on the plane, Phil had boarded and was sitting in an aisle seat wearing his clerical collar. Always interested in people with that wonderful gregarious extrovert trait of most parish clergy, he smiled broadly and warmly when Barbara saw him and smiled. An intelligent looking man with an open face and a warm smile and wearing a clerical collar made Barbara think that he was on his way to the same place and for the same reason as she. She paused before continuing on to her seat and asked  him where he was going. He said, "I'm going to Philadelphia to help my wife be ordained one of the first women priests in the Episcopal Church." Barbara said, "That's where and why I'm going, too! See you tomorrow!" And right there, the first in-person bond was made between those two flying pilgrims going onward to the Church of the Advocate with a common purpose.

I didn't know this wonderful story until last summer when I called Barbara to ask her permission to include her 25th anniversary sermon on my website. We had a lovely long visit on the telephone and among other stories, she told me about that airplane meeting with my Beloved Phil. We ordinands had to arrive a few days before the ordinations, for there was much preparation, both in prayer together and in struggling through some of the key issues involved, included the trepidation among us about repercussions. We had no idea that what we were about to do by responding to God's call to the priesthood would be much more, for without most or all of us fully realizing it or understanding what it would mean for the rest of our lives, we were also being called to become change agents. Over the next ten, twenty, thirty, now nearly forty years, we would discover the degree of opposition, misogyny and sometimes violence that would be expressed by others, leading to verbal abuse, rejection, and in at least one instance, physical assault. During the years ahead of us, a male priest, after receiving Holy Communion from Carter Heyward, would dig his nails into her hand so deeply that she required stitches. Had we known that such violence and ugliness lay ahead of us, we couldn't have borne it. Without doubting the sustaining Presence of God, I, at least, couldn't feel in myself the sheer physical stamina and emotional grit that our lives and our priestly ministries would require.

Betty Campbell, Phil's mom and my mother-in-love, had made the car trip with me from Minneapolis to Philadelphia. We met Phil (and it turns out, Barbara, too, had we but known it!) at the airport at 1am. That afternoon, Barbara Harris led the way for us, carrying the cross high and making a passage for us, like Miriam moving with her brother Moses across the Red Sea safely on solid ground, leading the People of God into greater freedom and greater responsibility, too.

Fifteen years after the Philadelphia Ordinations, Barbara Harris, articulate and relentless spokeswoman for the liberation of all people, had been ordained a deacon and priest, and followed us all the way up to the front of history when she became the first female bishop in the Anglican communion, though she has a predecessor for first woman bishop in an apostolic tradition in modern times. Archbishop Antonina Maria Izabela Wilucka was ordained priest and then bishop in 1929 in the Catholic Mariavite Church of Poland. She was sent to a concentration camp in 1941 but then released. She died in 1946 in the village of Felicjanow in Central Poland.  ( A biographical account of her work is on Don't Shoot the ]
 Mariavite Archbishop Antonina Maria Izabela Wiluka

In October, 1978, the first edition of my book, Womenpriest: A Personal Odyssey, had been released and I was touring several cities and events with it as well as having local Twin Cities radio, television and newspaper interviews about it. I flew from Los Angeles to Phoenix after speaking at St. Augustine's-by-the-Sea in Santa Monica. I had been invited to bring the book and lead a workshop at the Roman Catholic Fellowship of Christian Ministries' Annual Convention which was gathering at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Phoenix. At the end of the convention I was asked to preside at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I was wearing liturgical vestments, and when I entered the chapel I saw that the male clergy present were also wearing liturgical vestments and were sitting in the pews with the people they had been with during the conference sessions. I was the only woman vested. The Roman Catholic Women's Ordination Conference had begun about a month after the Philadelphia Ordinations and it was well underway. I knew from being with them for three days that there were women in the congregation who felt called to the priesthood. I saw that I was the only woman present who was vested and said aloud, "This isn't right." I told the three women close to me to sit with me to the side of the altar, and follow my lead. At the offertory, we all moved forward to stand together at the altar. I said to the congregation, "In solidarity with our sisters present here tonight and all other women who are called to sacramental ministry as priests, I am going to share my vestments with these women." I began to take off my stole, alb and cincture, and to help each of the women vest in one of them. I saw several of the male priests take off their vestments also. One said, "I won't wear false symbols either." We concelebrated the Eucharistic liturgy. I didn't know that a professional photographer was present until later. These pictures were taken by Melissa Jones. For the full story and its significance to the participants, see the "Phoenix" chapter in the Epilogue, "Dancing Under Burning Stars" in the revised edition of Womanpriest.

Marita, Alla, Jessie and Phyllis 

Tenth Anniversary, Church of the Advocate

 Before the service, balloons in honor of Jeannette Piccard
who had died in May 1981

Below at the high altar left to right~ Alison Cheek,
Carter Heyward, Sue Hiatt, Alla Bozarth[-Campbell]
and Lee McGee of the Washington Four

 Bakerwoman God

Bakerwoman God, I am your living bread.
Strong, brown Bakerwoman God,
I am your low, soft and being-shaped loaf.

I am your rising bread,
well-kneaded by some divine
and knotty pair of knuckles,
by your warm earth hands.
I am bread well-kneaded.

Put me in fire, Bakerwoman God,
put me in your own bright fire.
I am white and gold, soft and hard,
brown and round.
I am so warm from fire.

Break me, Bakerwoman God.
I am broken under your caring Word.
Drop me in your special juice in pieces.
Drop me in your blood.
Drunken me in the great red flood.
Self-giving chalice, swallow me.

My skin shines in the divine wine.
My face is cup-covered and I drown.
I fall up, in a red pool in a gold world
where your warm sunskin hand is there 
to catch and hold me.
Bakerwoman God, remake me.

Alla Renée Bozarth
Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey Luramedia, revised edition 1988, distributed by Alla Bozarth at Wisdom House; Stars in Your Bones: Emerging Signposts on Our  Spiritual Journeys by Alla Bozarth, Julia Barkley and Terri Hawthorne, North Star Press of St. Cloud 1990; Moving to the Edge of the World iUniverse 2000; and This is My Body~ Praying for Earth, Prayers from the Heart iUniverse 2004.

To order the graphic art card or wall hanging of "Bakerwoman God"~ 

To listen to the musical composition of  "Bakerwoman God" by retired Northern Illinois University professor of music theory and composition, Tim Blickhan,  performed by the Augustana College Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble, Michael  Zemek, director, on All Saints Day 2013, go here:

Left to Right: Alison Cheek, Carter Heyward, Sue Hiatt, Alla Bozarth, Lee McGee representing the Washington Four

Before Jesus~
Mary, Protopriest
of the New Covenant

Before Jesus was his mother.
Before supper in the upper room,
breakfast in the barn.

Before the Passover Feast,
a feeding trough.
And here, the altar of Earth,
fair linens of hay and seed.

Before his cry, her cry.
Before his sweat of blood, her bleeding and tears. 
Before his offering, hers.

Before the breaking of bread and death,
the breaking of her body in birth.

Before the offering of the cup,
the offering of her breast.
Before his blood, her blood.

And by her body and blood alone,
his body and blood 
and whole human being.

The wise ones knelt to hear 
the woman's word
in wonder.

Holding up her sacred child,
her spark of God in the form of a babe,
Mary said: Receive and let your hearts
be filled with love, for
This is my body, This is my blood.

Alla Renée Bozarth

Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey
by Alla rev. ed. 1988, distributed by the poet through Wisdom House;
Stars in Your Bones: Emerging Signposts on Our Spiritual Journeys
by Alla Bozarth, Julia Barkley and Terri Hawthorne, North Star Press of St. Cloud 1990;
Accidental Wisdom 
This is My Body~Praying for Earth, Prayers from the Heart  

Tenth Anniversary of the Ordinations Following Communion~ 
Prayers with Laying-on-of-hands 
for Special Intentions.  

Passover Remembered

Pack nothing.
Bring only
your determination
to serve and
your willingness
to be free.

Don’t wait for the bread to rise.
Take nourishment for the journey,
but eat standing, be ready
to move at a moment’s notice.

Do not hesitate to leave
your old ways behind—
fear, silence, submission.

Only surrender to the need
of the time—to love
justice and walk humbly
with your God.

Do not take time
to explain to the neighbors.
Tell only a few trusted
friends and family members.

Then begin quickly,
before you have time
to sink back into
the old slavery.

Set out in the dark.
I will send fire
to warm and encourage you.
I will be with you in the fire
and I will be with you in the cloud.

You will learn to eat new food
and find refuge in new places.
I will give you dreams in the desert
to guide you safely home to that place
you have not yet seen.

The stories you tell
one another around your fires
in the dark will make you
strong and wise.

Outsiders will attack you,
and some who follow you,
and at times you will weary
and turn on each other
from fear and fatigue and
blind forgetfulness.

You have been preparing
for this for hundreds of years.
I am sending you into the wilderness
to make a way and to learn my ways
more deeply.

Those who fight you will teach you.
Those who fear you will strengthen you.
Those who follow you may forget you.

Only be faithful.
This alone matters.

Some of you will die in the desert,
for the way is longer than anyone imagined.
Some of you will give birth.

Some will join other tribes
along the way, and some
will simply stop and create
new families in a welcoming oasis.

Some of you will be so changed
by weathers and wanderings
that even your closest friends
will have to learn your features
as though for the first time.
Some of you will not change at all.

Some will be abandoned
by your dearest loves
and misunderstood by those
who have known you since birth
and feel abandoned by you.

Some will find new friendship
in unlikely faces, and old friends
as faithful and true
as the pillar of God’s flame.

Wear protection.
Your flesh will be torn
as you make a path
with your bodies
through sharp tangles.
Wear protection.

Others who follow may deride
or forget the fools who first bled
where thorns once were, carrying them
away in their own flesh.

Such urgency as you now bear
may embarrass your children
who will know little of these times.

Sing songs as you go,
and hold close together.
You may at times grow
confused and lose your way.

Continue to call each other
by the names I’ve given you,
to help remember who you are.
You will get where you are going
by remembering who you are.

Touch each other
and keep telling the stories
of old bondage and of how
I delivered you.

Tell you children lest they forget
and fall into danger—remind them
even they were not born in freedom
but under a bondage they no longer
remember, which is still with them,
if unseen.

Or they were born
in the open desert
where no signposts are.

Make maps as you go,
remembering the way back
from before you were born.

So long ago you fell
into slavery, slipped
into it unawares,
out of hunger and need.

You left your famished country
for freedom and food in a new land,
but you fell unconscious and passive,
and slavery overtook you as you fell
asleep in the ease of your life.

You no longer told stories
of home to remember
who you were.

Do not let your children sleep
through the journey’s hardship.
Keep them awake and walking
on their own feet so that you both
remain strong and on course.

So you will be only
the first of many waves
of deliverance on these
desert seas.

It is the first of many
beginnings—your Paschaltide.
Remain true to this mystery.

Pass on the whole story.
I spared you all
by calling you forth
from your chains.

Do not go back.

I am with you now
and I am waiting for you.

       Alla Renée Bozarth

Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey, revised edition 1988;  
Water Women (audiotape) Wisdom House 1990;
Stars in Your Bones: Emerging Signposts on Our Spiritual Journeys (Bozarth, Barkley and Hawthorne); Accidental Wisdom and This is My Body ~ Praying for Earth, Prayers from the Heart
          Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in England and Ireland, a few decades later:
An Act of Synod on March 11,1992 confirmed permission for ordained women deacons to be ordained to the priesthood, but due to the controversy which followed, it was not enacted until two years and a day later on March 12, 1994 when the first 32 women were ordained to the priesthood. It took 21 more years of argument of discussing and arguing and coming around only after legislation providing an escape saying that a diocese was free to refuse women in the priesthood and so on, it finally took only a few months from the Act of Synod affirming women's consecration as bishops on July 14, 2014 for the first actual consecration of a female bishop on January 26, 2015, lightning speed as ecclesiastical progress goes. The Episcopal Church came up with its own escape clause legislature after 1976, but finally shut it down about 40 years later.

Next, I checked on our progress in Ireland and learned that the Anglican Church in Ireland preceded the UK by ordaining its first woman priest, the Rev. Jane Catterall, in 1990. Ireland's first woman bishop, the Rt. Rev. Pat Storey was consecrated as Bishop of Meath and Kildare in 2013.

As far as we women were concerned, the revelations of the depth and breadth of misogyny that infected our beloved church were shown to parallel the degree of sexism in society as a whole, much to our sorrow, because it defies logic, but more importantly, because all forms of bigotry and exclusion are contrary to the mind of Christ as revealed by his open-armed teachings in the Gospels.
Compare these proceedings to the Emancipation Proclamation which was made official as the president's right to issue orders under the provisions of war powers, even before the end of the Civil War, declaring the right of slaves to be free citizens, articulating the injunction to regard and treat blacks as having the same rights as whites, all of us being human, a command to the ten states in rebellion, that is, those which were resistant to the freeing of slaves.

As with racism, so with exclusionary sexism. The whole thing was and in much of the world still is predicated on the questions, "Are blacks human?" and "Are women human?" As preposterous as these insulting questions are, they reveal how many white or male people of privilege really do regard people of color and/or girls and women of any skin tone as something other than human. We are considered subhuman creatures who exist to serve and obey the privileged white or male classes.

The next question to ask is, "Does regarding race or sex by specious inductive conclusions as a way of determining who is human and who is not provide a valid, indelible underlying justification for discrimination, susceptible as it is to interpretation that can lead to outright cruelty or even murder? This can be the only way that such ideas exist, as afterthoughts that provide an excuse for the insecure privileged to avoid having to share their privilege with others outside their requirements for acceptability, such as "white like me" or "male, like me."

Tragically, these are questions which the human family has not asked of itself universally, or by now we would all have hung our heads in shame for our selfishly maintained stupidity and brutality, and we would have corrected our wrongs and made amends for them with profound apologies to one another, to our ancestors and to history.      

Back to America:                                                                                                                                                                                                 

On February 11, 1989, Barbara Clementine Harris, brilliant Social Gospel activist and scholarly writer of the column, "A Luta Continua" (The Struggle Continues) for The Witness Magazine, followed us into history by becoming the first female bishop in the Episcopal Church. We were in that liturgical procession also, and as principal, she followed us as we had once followed her. We were overwhelmed with thanksgiving as we witnessed her Consecration and Ordination as the suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts. The event took place at the Hynes Auditorium in Boston, for the great number of people who were expected.

The congregation of 8,000 joined Barbara in singing That Great Gettin' Up Mornin', one of the spirituals which had strengthened her beloved great-grandmother in the years of her childhood in slavery.

I could not stop weeping tears of joy from start to end of the service.

The Rev. Li Tim-Oi was also present.  On the First Sunday of Advent, November 28, 1971, ordained deacons The Rev. Joyce Bennett and The Rev. Jane Hwang Hsien Yuen, had been  ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao, formerly known as the Diocese of Hong Kong and South China. 

Here is an article about the Rev. Joyce Bennett and her work at the Church of St. Martin-in-Fields during her retirement. When a box opens saying, "Welcome to the Church Times,"  you do  not have to sign up to read the article, so click the upper right X to close the box and continue with the short article.

Here is an interesting account of a visit by the Rev. Jane Hwang Hsien Yuen to the Diocese of Southern Ohio in 1975:

At the bottom of the above page is a link to this historic event when the Rev. Jane Hwang Hsien Yuen was the first officially recognized Anglican woman priest to celebrate Holy Eucharist publicly on May 4 1975 at the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C., and then again in the Diocese of Southern Ohio on May 11 and May 18, 1975, before the Philadelphia Ordinations were officially recognized and affirmed:

On an historic occasion, the Rev. Jane Hwang Hsien Yuen, center, celebrates the Eucharist at Washington's Church of the Epiphany May 4, 1975 marking the first time a woman had officially functioned as a priest in an Episcopal church in the U. S. Ordained to the Anglican priesthood in Hong Kong in 1971, she conducted the Washington service at the invitation of Episcopal Bishop William F. Creighton of Washington. Assisting her are the Rev. Leslie Smith, left, and the Rev. James Gray. (Credit: Religious News Service Photo).
I love this photograph of the Rev. Jane Hwang Hsien Yuen as chief celebrant with her two concelebrants flanking her: left to right an African American man, center, a Chinese (Asian) woman, and a European American man, representing both sexes, most of the colors, and most of the continental habitats of humankind.

Before Jane Hwang Hsien Yuen and Joyce Bennett, the first female priest in [Anglo-]Catholic tradition in modern times was the Rev. Li Tim-Oi, who was an ordained deacon in Hong Kong when it was part of the Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong and South China in 1944. Li Tim-Oi was born in Hong Kong on May 5, 1907. Her father called her "Much Beloved," because he valued his little girl greatly, even though it went against his culture to do so. When Japan declared war on China in 1937, the Anglican clergy from England were at first allowed to stay on. But as time went by, because of the flood of refugees pouring into Macao from China, out of need for her immediate ministry her four year academic theological studies were interrupted in their third year so that she could be ordained to the diaconate on Ascension Day, 1941, by Bishop Ronald Hall. She was put in charge of an Anglican church in Macao.

Read more on this page of Elizabeth Kaeton's excellent blog:, and also visit "It Takes One Woman: The Website of the Li Tim-Oi Foundation" at

Diaconal ordination of Li Tim-Oi shown here with Bishop Mok.


She and her bishop had long been discussing her deep call to the priesthood. It was clear that the Japanese were going to cut off border crossings between Hong Kong and Macao, and the English clergy were to be called back to England. On January 25, 1944, Bishop Ronald Hall ordained Li Tim-Oi to the priesthood so that the Chinese Anglicans who continued to seek help in Macao would not be denied the sacraments which required priestly administration, such as the Holy Eucharist. She was the only Anglican priest not blocked by border crossfire for the duration of the war. Indeed, she rode her bicycle right on through it. In the war zones, she organized clinics and schools and provided pastoral care and the sacraments. She was much loved for her kindness, strength, courage and generosity of spirit.
When Japan's war against China ended in 1945, Li Tim-Oi's priestly ordination became known to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other bishops. Her priesthood was denounced and her beloved bishop, the Rt. Rev. Ronald Hall, was censured and vilified. In 1946, to spare him further persecution, Li Tim-Oi rescinded her license to officiate as a priest but retained her license for diaconal ministry. She never renounced her priestly ordination.  Bishop Hall held fast until his death that he had ordained her a priest under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that her vocation to the priesthood was deep and true. It was the inner knowledge of who she really was as a priest that later sustained her as a prisoner of the Communist regime.
The Rev. Li Tim-Oi and the Rt. Rev. Ronald Hall,
who had ordained her to the priesthood in 1944.

Oppressed people of wisdom understand that they must help one another to overcome oppression, at all times. Out of compassion for the terrible abuse inflicted on her bishop and friend, to make it stop, she rescinded her license to officiate as a priest, though, with pain in her heart at being unable to celebrate the Eucharist, she continued to love and serve her people as a deacon, until the Cultural Revolution imprisoned her and all but buried her alive in degradation. In her concentration camp experience she stayed sane and alive by going to a secret mountain within her where God whispered to her, “Are you not a wise woman? You are a priest! You will survive this and serve those whom I love.” 

In 1983 at the age of 76 she was granted a visa to visit her sister in Canada. Persuaded to stay, the Anglican Church of Canada reinstated her full powers to function as a priest, first in Montreal, Quebec, and then in Toronto, Ontario where she settled.  On January 25, 1984, she celebrated  the 40th anniversary of her ordination to the priesthood in Westminster Abbey. 

To read more about Li Tim-Oi's ministry in Hepu after the war and her subsequent persecution and suppression for 16 years during the so-called Cultural Revolution in China from 1958 on, when she was forced to work on a farm and then in a factory until 1974, read:

The Roman Catholic movement for women's ordination honors Li Tim-Oi and tells her story here.

A sermon in the form of a letter written to her after her death in 1992 at the age of 84, by the son of Bishop Ronald Hall who ordained Li Tim-Oi to the priesthood. This was on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of her priestly ordination and the dedication of an icon of Li Tim-Oi for the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London.

In 1989 she traveled from Toronto to Boston to join the joyous throng of thousands at Bishop Harris' consecration. 


The Rev. Li Tim-Oi attended the Consecration of  Bishop Barbara Harris
The new bishop wore elegant silk vestments made by women of Ghana. A black Gospel choir sang the spirituals that had sustained her great-grandmother through her life as a slave in Maryland. A Chinese choir sang lullaby hymns in Chinese to honor Li Tim-Oi. I stood on a chair so I could see her, the first female priest, a once persecuted Chinese woman, and Barbara Harris, the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion, an African-American woman and descendent of slaves, as they embraced one another in Christ at the liturgical Peace. There was an opening then in the dimensions between Heaven and Earth, and in that moment of sweet redemption, tongues of fire on their heads, they showed the world how God, with human and other mortal help, can make the impossible possible for the greater good, and how injustice can dissolve into justice and personal suffering, even intense and long, can be turned into joy.
That moment had the Spirit-charge of Pentecost~ the two women embracing to wish each other the Peace of Christ: the African-American descendant of slaves and the former Chinese concentration camp prisoner. Not only because of making history by bringing more freedom into the Church and thereby encouraging all women and oppressed people everywhere to devote themselves to peace with justice for all, but because of who they were as human beings and the particular histories which they represented, for me that day was more glorious than our own ordination day, its true fulfillment in full open light and with thousands present, people of many faiths praying together at the Great Thanksgiving liturgy of Holy Communion among these few people who had directly or indirectly endured a history of oppression and survived to lift up their voices as one with unmitigated joy.

       It's Pentecost Again

“The power behind you is greater
      than the task ahead of you.”
           Audrey Bronson

            Rainbow light!
        Mother-Father light!
         It’s Pentecost again!

   “Could God die, I would die”

Sweet, sweet Spirit, Fire-preacher

O fare, fare, fare forward and well
in the morning, in this sweet,
sweetest morning, fare well—
It’s Pentecost again!
This day was born in Eternity,
this day is a Heavenly day.
Sweet, sweet Spirit! We pray
to be as open to You forever
as we are this day.

Bishop Barbara Clementine,
Daughter of God, Sister, Mother, Friend—
“It’s God, it’s God” overseeing us all,
and you oversee as one who sees through—
with insight— though we have known oversight,
yet shall we be touched by the divine fire
of intelligent Compassion, by fire in the rose—

Mother Rosa Parks said, “I’m tired. It’s enough.”
She remembered everyone else, too.
Mother Harriet Tubman showed thanks to God
by remembering and never resting without freeing others.

Mother Sojourner blessed the Truth by telling it
with muscle! O tell the story, tell it, tell it
Mother, Father, all join hands
and speak with tongues of fire
and bring new meaning to the color purple!
It’s Pentecost again!

“Earthquake! Wind and Fire!”
Mother, Sister, Friend of those enslaved
by poverty, oppression and fear,
and  great-granddaughter of the woman
who had been a slave as a girl and lived
to become your soul’s Great Teacher,
who lived with you in your same household
until her death when you were eight years old—
You, the great-granddaughter of a slave,
are now a soul mother to the free—
helper of the homeless, helpless, hopeless ones.

O Spirit, Come among us now in living color!
O Christ, be as a Mother to us and Glory
and Alleluia forever!

And the sermon by Paul, our Brother, reminds us
Who This Is: One of seventeen African Americans
elected bishops — and ain’t she a woman? 

This Boston proper town of teas and
white dignity and black nobility
coming now to make it happen:
God, we will have it now, beyond time and space
and in the high noon of our lives,
for she who knows and comes from suffering is worthy
to be our Suffragan! Holy Compassion, Heavenly Dove!

We make it so, in flames that burn glorious in the redemptive
spirits and the human blood of our suffering ancestors all.
No camel in the needle’s eye, she is a lion!
And ours! And Oh, how we need her voice in our House!
The House of Leaders, of Gentlemen and Gentlewoman—
how we need her to lead us as one who knows that service can lead~

O God, there is something above, let it reach me” 

“Today I have not forgotten you, My people.
Today I call Myself to you. Today I send you one who knows
about prison, who knows about hunger— who knows of hungry
and broken lives, and who helps bind wounds, and who marches on—
This woman who knows successes of sheer giftedness— 
for My gifts still count! Here, world, My gift to you, 
your new bishop, Barbara Clementine, as she is.

“See her glowing mitre point to justice!
The Struggle Continues.
And today she dances on fire, but not alone—
just another of My miracles.
Barbara, bring forth the truth— but not alone.
Continue— but not alone.

“Wear the mitred hat, originally the chef’s hat worn by deacons,
the crown of fire, and remember that My burden borne in love
is a beautiful burden. Barbara, begin—  but not alone.
Creative Fire spreads. It’s Pentecost again. Get ready, world.

“Shalom, My heart’s desire, is coming through,
is coming down into My world.
Sweet, sweet World, begin.
It’s Pentecost again!”

And in the great tradition of the Grandmothers,
close to God in this Great Gettin’-Up Mornin,
may we fare well, following her again
as when she carried the cross at the front
of the procession of the first female priests-to-be
in America. And now the suffragist mothers
bless our suffragan sister, who stands behind us
as our leader in the historic Gospel Procession
of justice and Shalom for all: She who was first in service
is lastly a leader among leaders, and she who was last
among peoples is our first chosen one. 


Right Reverend Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris,
African American, first female bishop among the Apostles
on whom we can lay our eyes and blessing hands, you embrace us all—
in your luminous mitred Pentecost hat of gold flame, in your African
bright garden, thunderstorm and lightning, symphonic purple, 
burgundy and gold, in your true green tree of life worshiping clothes,
silk vestments lovingly woven and made by women of Ghana—
and we are held in wonder, firelight and an infinite joy, 
and our future pains and past pains in this meeting moment
are transformed, and our once and future wounds are bound.

And in this moment is pure, pure gentleness and praise,
for the strong and tender outcasts have been brought home,
and the God-infused faces and hands that were rejected
are shining on us at last ~ It’s Pentecost again! 

                  Alla Renėe Bozarth 

This is My Body~ Praying for Earth,  
           Prayers from the Heart 
                     iUniverse 2004

The Reverend Li Tim-Oi and the Right Reverend Barbara Harris greet each other 
with the Peace of Christ at a service on the Sunday following the Consecration.

The painting by Anne Shams below, Paradise Lies at the Feet of the Mothers, provided the title of the poem that follows. See "Jerusalem a Quarter Century Ago: A Celebration of Diversity" from the archives for more of Anne's art and philosophy. 

             Paradise Lies at the Feet of the Mothers ~ 
                             A Celebratory Poem

In honor of Anglican priest, the Reverend Li Tim-Oi and 
Episcopal bishop, the Right Reverend Barbara Clementine Harris 
on the day of her ordination and consecration to the episcopate, 
February 11, 1989.

Today, let us say, in Boston, Heaven and Earth were joined.
It is, in truth, forever Today, and beyond that, a Forever Day,
when an act of perfection is allowed in space-time,
an act which expands through the universe and all times
to gather the suffering-through-which-it-was-made 
into its healing arms.

In a moment of Sweet Redemption, two women embraced—
Asia and Africa met and embraced in America.

East and West were partnered in the arms of full-grown daughters
of noble ancestors, as they accepted the mantle of the mothers.
The mothers— whose holy patience finally mandated 
their divine impatience to act at this ripened hour—

The first Anglican woman priest, ordained
when no man could get through the crossfire
between her Chinese people and invading Japanese soldiers,
and she alone for the years of the war, riding her bicycle
fast between bullets, served the people, 
then in compassionate sacrifice gave back her right, 
though a priest forever, to act as priestly minister.
Years later she would be a tortured prisoner 
of the Cultural Revolution.

But decades beyond her survival of that, finally,
forty years after her priestly ordination day,
her life and her ministry were recognized 
and received in their unity.

Restored to oneness between being and doing,
her long Wilderness Journey ending
in the North American Promised Land, 
she would attend as a priest
the public Celebration of the Consecration 
of the first woman bishop in the Anglican Tradition, 
a brilliant liberation visionary who had crossed into history 
to help make the world possible,
an African American descendant of slaves.
And during the liturgical Peace for all to share, 
the women embrace.

What shines and hums in the space between them
is the new young world being born.

               Alla Renée Bozarth

     Diamonds in a Stony Field 

Prayers for the Feast of Li Tim-Oi, who died on February 26, 1992.

Loving God, giver of all good gifts, fill us with your grace, that we, like your servant  Tim-Oi, first woman to be ordained an Anglican priest, may entrust you with our destiny. May we, with her same forbearance in the face of adversity, witness to you in all things; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Added to the Book of Alternative Services
Calendar of Holy Persons
General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada 2004

The Feast of Li Tim-Oi, Priest.

February 26

Gracious God, we thank you for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much-beloved daughter, to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in our Communion: By the grace  of your Spirit inspire us to follow her example, serving your people with patience and happiness all our days, and witnessing in every circumstance to our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The American Episcopal Church Lectionary  and the supplementary book, Holy Women, Holy Men, for the Feast of Li Tim-Oi, Priest, January 24, the day before the anniversary of her ordination to the priesthood which occurred on January 25, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

Read an insightful and deeply articulate first-person account of the consecration by Jane Carol Redmont on her blog, "Acts of Hope," where I found this striking image of the altar gathering.

At the altar are Li Tim-Oi at the left corner next to Carter Heyward, just-consecrated Bishop Barbara Harris as chief celebrant in the center, and the Rev. Margaret Bullit-Jonas on Bishop Harris's left, our right.
Click on the image and notice the cross worn by Li Tim Oi 
(at the altar on left, facing us)

Then, on June 29, 1990:

For the first time the historic episcopate was passed an from one woman to another as Bishop Barbara Harris…joined her brother bishops in the laying-on-of-hands, a sign of the apostolic succession… Wearing a stunning blue-silk patchwork vestment sewn together by a group of Dunedin women and designed to symbolize the Annunciation, the English-born Penny Jamieson, 48, was made seventh bishop of Dunedin [New Zealand]… As Jamieson’s procession entered the rear of the cathedral, a 92-year old Maori woman cloaked in ceremonial feathers slowly backed down the aisle before the diocese’s new “mother-in-God,” calling her into the sacred meeting place, the place where in Maori tradition only truth can be spoken. She cried, “Bring your mother under the umbrella of the Almighty!”
In the chancel, a young Maori cried back in the same tongue, “This is your family!” Following Maori tradition, Jamieson was accompanied down the aisle by about 30 friends, parishioners, and colleagues from her home in Wellington who were there to support her as she was drawn into the chancel by this compelling call… Twenty women priests and lay women stood in the center of the cathedral singing a familiar Celtic blessing which ends, “May God hold you in the hollow of her hand.”… As the women enclosed Jamieson in their own circle, presenting her with a carved wood staff, the congregation rose to its feet in what was for New Zealand’s Anglicans an uncharacteristic outburst of applause.” Julie A. Wortman, Episcopal Life, August, 1990

Egg Energy

She enters the sacred place, moving
and moved by her people,
compelled forward by the call
of the crone, 92 year old Maori
motherhood empowering her,
the old one backs down the aisle
before her daughter-mother
toward the high altar;
dressed in flame feathers
she beckons, bows, and bestows
her wiseblood power onto the other
woman who will be firstborn
of the tribe into the high place:

Bring your mother under
the umbrella of God!”
Cloaked in bright colors of water
and sky she follows slowly, heavy
with the heavenly burden she bears
in her soul-womb, upheld by the many —
they carry her into their shared conception,
her calling, and the angel of God opens
her arms to receive the trembling new one
from the cradle of arms of her midwives:

Be mother to your family,
for here you have grown up among us
and here you belong.”

Preside here, in your host-throne place,
wearing the solemn crown of one-who-feeds-many:
divine feast-food for souls.”

Here we lay hands on you in power and
love, encircle you, uphold you,
Earth-daughter, lift you into
the sanctified place where only truth
can be uttered, lift you onto
the breast of our God.
May She shine forth from your eyes
in our midst to the end of your days.
And may we never leave you
to lead all alone. For here is
the circle of God, true heart
of Christ’s body, your mothering home.
Mother, well come.”

This is My BodyPraying for Earth, Prayers from the Heart
by Alla Renée Bozarth, iUniverse 2004. All rights reserved.

                    Alla greets the new bishop at her reception.     

20th anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations

at the Philadelphia Cathedral
Vested Philadelphia Eleven concelebrants around the altar left to right, Alison Cheek, Washington Four priest Betty Powell (back of head), Alla Bozarth (portion of red stole and face), Sue Hiatt, Katrina Swanson (in red chasuble), Nancy Wittig (presiding), Emily Hewitt, Merrill Bittner and Betty Bone Schiess, with Carter Heyward on her left wearing a gold stole. Bishop Robert DeWitt behind Merrill and a deacon, standing above on the right in the chancel pew in his black tippet over a scarlet chamire worn over his white rochet. Bishop Barbara Harris is standing, similarly vested, on the chancel level behind the presiding celebrant, Nancy Wittig. 


Photo of the Silver Anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations Celebration at the Church of the Advocate,  July 29, 1999. We were beginning the service by reading verses, left to right, of the tenth anniversary commemorative poem, "Passover Remembered," chosen by Sue Hiatt for the 25th anniversary event. The poem is shown below after the sermon by Barbara Harris.

July 29, 1999, one of the Washington Four and nine of the Philadelphia Eleven at the 25th anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations. From Left: Lee McGee (Street) of the Washington Four, Sue Hiatt, Katrina Welles Swanson, Marie (Moorefield) Fleischer, Merrill Bittner, Carter Heyward, Alison Cheek, Nancy Hatch Wittig, the Hon. Emily Clark Hewitt and Alla Renée Bozarth (formerly Bozarth-Campbell). July 29, 1999, one of the Washington Four and nine of the Philadelphia Eleven at the 25th anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations. From Left: Lee McGee (Street) of the Washington Four, Sue Hiatt, Katrina Welles Swanson, Marie (Moorefield) Fleischer, Merrill Bittner, Carter Heyward, Alison Cheek, Nancy Hatch Wittig, the Hon. Emily Clark Hewitt and Alla Renée Bozarth (formerly Bozarth-Campbell). Next to me there is an empty chair honoring Jeannette Piccard, both of us from the Diocese of Minnesota. Only Washington Four Diane Tickell from Alaska was further west of us. On the chair, Jeannette's signature red stole with appliquéd brightly colored hot air balloons was draped, letting us feel her presence in the Great Communion in all its vividness. Betty Powell (formerly Rosenberg) of the Washington Four was present in the congregation and the rest of us felt her beside us. Eldest of us at the time, Betty Schiess had come, but felt the hot air of Philadelphia and wisely turned around to go back home to upstate New York.  I do not think that Washington Four Alison Palmer was present, but I know that she is among those interviewed and written about by Darlene O'Dell in The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven, released in 2014 for the 40th anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations. Alison was a diplomat with the State Department for many years. In 2013, Ms. O'Dell spent time in person or by telephone interviewing members of the Philadelphia Eleven and the Washington Four then still living. Her account, based on an extraordinarily sensitive and respectful hearing of our stories, is an heirloom treasure for us to hold in our  hands and in perspective as a source of meaning and strength for the rest of our lives. She helps us to remember who we were and who we still are. 
Eldest among us and first ordained a priest at the age of 79, having felt called since the age of 11, is Jeannette Piccard who died in 1981 at the age of 86. Suzanne Radley Hiatt of the Philadelphia Eleven and Diane Tickell of the Washington Four died in 2002. Philadelphia Eleven members Katrina Welles Swanson died in 2005, Betty Bone Schiess died in 2017, Alison Cheek died in 2019, and Washington Four priest Lee McGee Street died on February 20 of this year, 2022. That makes seven in Heaven and eight of us carrying on in this fractured but beloved world we are still blessed to serve as Christ's priests. We miss each one of our sisters who are getting Paradise ready for the rest of us, as one by one we too will achieve our lifetimes and move on to the Larger Life.  

Still living in spacetime as of September 1, 2022 are Betty Powell and Alison Palmer of the Washington Four, and Marie Moorefield Fleischer, Nancy Wittig, Emily Hewitt, Merrill Bittner, Carter Heyward and Alla Renée Bozarth of the Philadelphia Eleven.  

The writings of Sue Hiatt have been lovingly edited and compiled by Carter Heyward and Janine Lehane, and both this book and Darlene O'Dell's The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven will be published by October 2014 in time for a special 40th anniversary celebration honoring the Philadelphia Ordinations and the Washington Ordinations. The two day event is scheduled to take place on October 2nd and 3rd at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The occasion will be the Annual Dewey/Heyward Lectures. The keynote address is scheduled to be delivered by The Hon. Rev. Emily Clark Hewitt, who in addition to being one of the Philadelphia Eleven is also the recently retired, presidentially appointed Chief Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims. The celebrant of the Holy Eucharist is scheduled to be The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori and the preacher is scheduled to be The Rev. Dr. Alison Cheek.

On the silver anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations, the Right Reverend Barbara Harris stepped up into the pulpit of the Church of the Advocate, removed her dignified red and gold mitred bishop's hat and began to preach. She preached with the passion and integrity of prophets of old. Rather than wait to tell you these things on another anniversary next summer, I have waited too long already ~ thwarted by technical and financial difficulties ~ but finally found a way around the obstacles to give the world the words of Bishop Harris that re-charging day a quarter century after we eleven new priests and our three ordaining bishops made a healthy crack in the stained glass ceiling.

In these pictures below you will see stirrings and bustlings before the liturgy begins, me standing in the doorway of the narthex enjoying all the people milling about and settling in, with Katrina Swanson's hand and vestment visible on my left, and in the last picture, my dear sister-priest the Rev. LouAnn Pickering, priest for the Church of  St. Gabriel the Archangel in Portland, crossing the threshold with me into the main part of the church during the opening hymn.

Below her portrait are the galvanizing words
of Bishop Barbara Harris' sermon as we heard them
and made them part of our lives~

Sermon Delivered by the Rt. Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris
at the Church of the Advocate—
July 29, 1999
on the occasion of the
25th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women 
to the Priesthood

Let there be peace among us
and let us not be instruments of our own oppression.
In the name of God, Creator, Liberator and Sustainer.
We gather this evening to mark a significant milestone in the life of the church. A quarter of a century is an important turning point for nearly any development and the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church is of no small consequence.
For some it is a time of joy and celebration. For others it calls up words from our closing hymn—“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way . . .” For still others there are lingering doubts that celebration is appropriate, given the climate we are experiencing in the church today. Whatever draws us to this place tonight, whatever it is we are feeling individually, it is well that we corporately mark that historic sweltering hot Monday morning 25 years ago on this date and that we mark it with dignity and solemnity.
For those of you who were not around 25 years ago and for those who may have forgotten, July 29, 1974, was a momentous day. It not only spawned a new era, it revealed something profound concerning the nature of those in the church for whom an unchanged tradition— or selected portions thereof— is paramount. And that particular phenomenon continues to unfold in ever more definitive form.
Last month, the Bishop of Maine, Chilton Knudsen and I had the opportunity to participate in a class at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge jointly conducted by Carter Heyward and Sue Hiatt. The title of their course was ‘Philadelphia 25 years later—Was it worth it?” Most would see that, despite some of what we have endured and experienced, indeed it has been worth it. But twenty-five years later and some 3,000 ordained women in the U.S. alone and approximately 6,300 total in nearly 26 provinces of the Anglican Communion, I believe there are some additional questions that need to be raised.
Now I want to try to speak a little truth here tonight. And I am going to be brief and, as often accused, I am going to be blunt. I do, however, have to choose my words very carefully in that I not only tend to be quoted, I frequently tend to get misquoted. I don’t mind the former, in context— it’s the latter that ticks me off.
To begin with, last year’s decennial gathering of apostolic eagles— which included its share of turkeys— the Lambeth Conference, brought a defining melding of these two questions.
Despite the development of a critical mass of ordained women, including eleven bishops, at Lambeth we were left wondering what had happened to the dream of a kinder, gentler church. The conference resolution concerning ordination of women and its odious amendment— authored by two women bishops in concert with some conservative male bishops— totally ignored any positive impact the church has experienced through ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate over the past 25 years. It was a stunning denigration of the more than 6000 women in Orders from Utah to Uganda, to say nothing of those who have yet to respond to God’s call. Rather, having tasted blood with the much amended resolution on human sexuality, the princes of the church moved in for the kill on the people they really hold in low esteem— WOMEN.
Given the fact that the church has had gay priests and bishops since at least the 13th century, it is disingenuous, at best, and downright dishonest at the worst, to pretend that we are faced with some new phenomenon of homosexual clergy. When church policy seemed to be “don’t ask, don’t tell” it was kind of okay, but almost any single male clergy were often suspected of being gay. Even with the advent of openly gay clergy, there has been no call to suspend male ordinations generally. While I do not, by any means, minimize the rampant hostility toward our gay brothers, I strongly suspect that the advent of open lesbians into the ranks of the ordained has triggered renewed and redoubled efforts to turn back the clock on women’s ordination. As in other male dominated fields, from law enforcement to medicine, almost any unmarried woman is regarded as a lesbian— or else promiscuous. That is an important part of what we have learned.
Meanwhile, the few U.S. bishops who openly oppose women’s ordination, and their sycophants, now claim vindication, proclaiming themselves to be “in the mainstream of Anglicanism.” And make no mistake, they will try to use Lambeth’s non-binding action as a club against us at next year’s General Convention of the church, as some already are doing when they talk about “defiance” and “rejection” of Lambeth’s resolutions. In reality they are swimming against the gospel tide of inclusivity, headed for the backwater eddies of patriarchal delusion. 

And that, too, is a part of what we have learned.
But a nagging question remains that points us to some of why opposition continues. Where are the real men— not the ones who don’t eat quiche— the men straight and gay who claim to support us; the men who purport to embrace the concept that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female?”
Well, let us recount what has happened, for the lessons are long, hard and bitter. But our sister Maya Angelou reminds us that “history with all of its unending pain cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
Early on, at Port St. Lucy, we got the “conscience clause” that said bishops who did not in conscience believe in ordination of women were not bound to ordain them. Then in 1988 we got an “episcopal visitor” resolution - that, incidentally quietly expired in 1994. That same year, however, we got silence at the Indianapolis General Convention. In 1997, after 23 long years, the ordination canons become mandatory. This was followed one year later by the deafening silence of OUR male bishops at Lambeth. And so, while women, in numbers, still predominate the church and virtually remain its most potent human resource, men still outvote us, whether they are vocal or silent. And that, too, is a part of what we have learned.
Fifteen years ago, as we marked the 10th anniversary of the Philadelphia and Washington ordinations, Bishop Tony Ramos, the preacher that day, reminded us: “...wholeness is far from our reach. The journey goes on, the struggle continues and we need to remain faithful to our call. . . .” 

His words continue to ring true today.
Yes, Sue and Carter, it has been worth the effort, it has been worth the pain, it has been worth the joy and worth the halting steps forward toward wholeness and healing. And yes we have learned a lot. But, indeed, A luta continua - the struggle continues. That too, is what we have learned.
So where does all this leave us on this 25th anniversary?
It should leave us mindful of the words of the apostle Paul to the young church at Rome, heard in our second scripture reading: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. . . . If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
It should also leave us committed to press forward with a renewed determination to work toward eradicating the sexism, racism and homophobia which continue to permeate and pervade the church and in turn spawn some of the hate crimes we witness. And that includes demanding more in the way of concrete action on the part of the men who say they support us.
The strategy of the other side is unfolding with a clarity and a relentless kind of fury. Their march is on with priests being transferred to dioceses abroad, placing them under the oversight of bishops in Africa and Asia, then having them return to plant new churches not in communion with their dioceses and providing an opening for overseas bishops to come, uninvited, to this country and to invade the jurisdictions of bishops here. May I also note, parenthetically, that the unrelenting requests for financial assistance continue to pour in from some of the same diocesan bishops abroad who condemn us. The march is on, disseminating mis-information and, in some instances, outright lies; soliciting ecclesiastic admonitions to the US church from other primates of other provinces; targeting so-called “revisionist bishops” and liberal dioceses, witch-hunting gay and lesbian clergy and seeking to discredit those who dare to fight for an inclusive church.
Thanks be to God for our pioneer women, for the bishops who ordained and supported them, for this parish which welcomed them and the church gathered that 1974 day, for the clergy and laity who embraced their priesthood and subsequently paid the price and for all who have followed in their courageous footsteps.
And so my sisters and brothers tonight Passover is remembered. But so also is Paschaltide. For we are an Easter people in a Good Friday world. So also is the truth expressed in that great South African hymn, “Siyahamba,” translated— We are marching in the light of God. Remember also the fact that “we’ve come this far by faith” and we trust our God for the next steps of the journey.
When we close our worship this night, we can sing with new appreciation, new understanding and new fervor, the words of James Weldon Johnson’s powerful poetic prayer:
“Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod, felt in the days when hope unborn had died; Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet come to the place for which our parents sighed?
“We have come over a way that with tears has been watered; We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last, Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.”
Let there be peace among us and let us not be instruments of our own oppression.
The Rt. Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris
+ Consecrated to the Episcopate February 11, 1989 +

Middle of the Night Note to a Friend about Misogyny 
Response to a letter from poet and teacher, Pesha Gertler 

It's going to take a long, long time for misogyny to get out of people's brains. It's the most toxic global evil there is. It expresses  fear and hatred of Life, Nature, the Body, the Mother, the Soul. Variously, women have internalized the poison you speak of as a teacher and writer, and hate themselves. 

Variously, men continue to confirm their hate through patronizing hypocrisy, disrespect or overt abuse. The evil varies by culture, experience and individual degrees, but it’s endemic to our species.   

Egg envy manifests as death-dealing in all its forms, especially verbal, psychological and emotional, but it’s brutally physical as well. It’s the reactive psychological inversion expressed in war, rape, selfish domination (rising from reactive male self-hatred), controlling cruelty (rising from unconscious mimicry, fear of powerlessness, and narcissistic rage against maternal authority), slavery and torture. It’s global, and we Westerners in our middle class glass houses are not immune to it. To cure it, one by one we need to commit ourselves to the process, out of love for self and one another as worthy beings, by virtue of our existence alone— for the universe and the Creator invited everyone who’s here to be here.

We can learn and practice, generation by generation, until we’ve rewired our gray and white matter to integrate a new core attitude of self-awareness and mutual respect. We can't be the whole solution, but we can and must be part of it. That's what's asked of us by our foremothers, sisters and daughters, and by Great Mother God. . . . 

The Rev. Alla Renée Bozarth, Ph.D.

At the beginning of the service, these beautiful children danced down the aisle following the drummer and other musicians. They are the most beautiful and meaningful part of the liturgy.
         We follow the Future into a World of Hope for Harmony


The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori

In June of 2006, the triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church gathered in Columbus, Ohio, elected Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Diocese of Nevada to become the next Presiding Bishop of the National Episcopal Church. She officially took office on All Saints Day, November 1, 2006, and her investiture at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. took place on November 4, 2006, followed by her official seating there the next day.

Katharine is another brilliant, talented woman like so many whose lights from God are at last being given to the world for increased illumination and joy. Her bachelor's degree was in marine biology, her master's degree and Ph.D. were in oceanography. She was a professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis and also served as marine science officer for the United States Navy.

Parishioners at the Church of the Good Samaritan where Katharine served as member and lay leader had begun to tell her repeatedly that they were experiencing her spiritual and intellectual gifts in such a way as strongly indicated a vocation to the priesthood. After much prayer and reflection, Katharine earned her Master of Divinity degree and was ordained a deacon and then a priest in 1994.

In 1999 she was called to be Bishop of the Diocese of Nevada. Like her daughter who is a Captain and pilot in the United States Air Force, Katharine was an expert pilot who flew her own airplane across the expanses of her new diocese to make her episcopal visitations. A bi-linguist, Katharine gave her acceptance speech to the General Convention after she was elected Presiding Bishop in both English and Spanish. Her husband, Dick Schori, is a retired professor of mathematics and an avid mountain climber and wrestler. I wrote the blessing poem below for all of them. It appeared in the December 2006 issue of Episcopal Life with stunning pictures of Katharine's investiture at our National Cathedral.

A Blessing Poem for Katharine Jefferts Schori,
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

You married Adventure.
Born an Advent woman, you
swim into the deep regions of the sea
to meet more ancient creatures and learn
from them deeper mysteries of the Holy One,
respond with your human gifts to help our species
help those whom we’ve harmed, call us to harm no more.
You greet the Divine alive in the bathosphere,
swim with Christ and dolphins, jellyfish, sunfish,
clams and lobsters, teach us their wonders
when you return. Ever in balance, you climb
high mountains with your mate, follow the glacial flow,
observe the currents and patterns of grace
in every living form. Stretching for the stars you reach
toward stratosphere heights, fly with your daughter
into a God’s-Eye-view of distance and time.

Spirit-led, you study
the currents and winds
of Beyond, celebrate
the holy Within.

Your husband gleans the infinite
through numbers, proportions of wonderment,
the small worlds invisible to thought yet sensed,
demanding exploration, the strange attractors
and fractals comprising all matter— how spirit secretly
marries matter in the human mind, capable of the astonishing,
creating what it imagines, the play of opposites that works,
somehow, beyond all reckoning— he, the man of thought and theory,
knows his own strength, climbs by inner knowledge into the realms
of darkness and light, becomes an Olympic-style wrestler,
while you beside him now say Yes to the strange new angels
who wish to wrestle with you, name you worthy of the dance.
Rest. Work. Play. Explore. All ways of knowing take part
in the wonder of where you are now.
What you need is yours, the One coming to meet you,
refresh you, uphold and inspire you, the Advent God.
Adventure marries you. 

           Alla Renée Bozarth                                                                     
     Diamonds in a Stony Field 
Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved
      The Annunciation

The artist had broken canon law forbidding
   anything holy to extend beyond the borders.

When the angel’s
wing stretched

Past the borders
of the picture,
beyond the icon’s

Frame, into the world
freely, and
the woman listening

Smiled, she smiled
openly, shamelessly,

And women seeing
her smile
smile back

And suddenly discover
they are incapable
of submitting

Any longer
to soul-killing

And feel something
within them

Wanting to laugh
out loud
in the dead-still church,

Wanting to dance,
lift their skirts
and see what

Is being born
from within them
in that moment,

What holy wonder
is coming forth
from inside

Their tired old

Then it will be
the second coming
of Creation

And Christ will live again
in every woman’s

   Alla Renée Bozarth
  Accidental Wisdom
      iUniverse 2003.

            Water Women

We do not want to rock the boat,
you say, mistaking our new poise
for something safe. 

We smile secretly at each other,
sharing the reality that for some time
we have not been in the boat.

We jumped or were pushed
or fell, and some leaped overboard.

Our bodies form a freedom fleet,
our dolphin grace is power.

We learn and teach and as we go
each woman sings~ each woman’s hands
are water wings.

Some of us have become
mermaids or Amazon whales
and are swimming for our lives.

Some of us do not know how to swim.            We walk on water
           Alla Renée Bozarth

Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey, Alla Renée Bozarth, revised edition 1988, distributed by Wisdom House~ 
Water Women, audiocassette, Wisdom House 1990~ Accidental Wisdom, Alla Renée Bozarth, iUniverse 2003 and This is My Body—  Praying for Earth, Prayers from the Heart, Alla Renée Bozarth,
iUniverse 2004. All rights reserved.


In August of 2006, I had been asked by the Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of Oregon to be interviewed on a video that would be presented to the annual diocesan convention that autumn in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the First Ordination of a Woman to the Diaconate in the Diocese of Oregon. In preparation, I was asked to gather articles and artifacts from the past that were meaningful in the years before and after my ordinations as a deacon and priest. This request meant that I would have  to go to the back corner of my storage area and pull out a trunk-sized box stuffed with articles and pictures from those years, as well as awards and letters from family, friends and strangers, some with praise and some with bitter chastisement, some loving and some hateful. I approached the task with some trepidation. This is what followed:

Digging Down into the Dusty Past

Recently, I was preparing a pictorial document about those days
at the beginning of the twilight zone in my memory, when I accidentally
stumbled into history simply by saying Yes to becoming a priest.

I only wanted to respond to an inner call 
to be a celebrant of the Mysteries,
and to serve God and souls through the sacraments.

I had no sense of real recognition about this necessitating 

becoming a change agent, which would inevitably lead to 
public attention and worse, media demands and distortions, 
or the exploitation that would come.

Nor did I have any idea of how quickly it would come.

I hadn’t imagined the consequences that would sometimes thwart
my ability to function in my very calling— that the means would
impede the end while at the same time accomplishing it.

I hadn’t dreamed anyone would be as blatantly
mean spirited as such a simple thing seemed to call forth,
the misogynist anger and hate it would provoke.

To keep focused on my ministry and life, through most 
of the following years I have mercifully forgotten 
the harsher moments of unfolding reality.

I remembered the fact of the hate mail, the rejections 
by family members, colleagues and friends, 
the obscene calls and death threats— but not the details.

Today I wanted to see if down at the bottom
of my trunk full of clippings and letters, articles and photos,
I had obtained and saved the photograph that bumped Watergate
from the top to the bottom of the front page of The New York Times
on July 30, 1974, the day after the Philadelphia Ordinations.

It was the same scene as the one obtained by my publisher, 
Paulist Press, for the back of my book, Womanpriest: 
A Personal Odyssey, first edition~ though I did not remember 
if I had actually owned it or the publisher arranged  to use it 
by direct permission from  The Philadelphia Inquirer
whose staff photographer had captured that moment— 
the eleven of us  women deacons ranging in age 
from 27 (me) to 79 (Jeannette Piccard).

We were lined up in our white albs at the communion rail 
while our ordaining bishops asked us the standard formal 
questions of candidates for ordinations, according to 
The Book of Common Prayer.  Questions of faith and dedication.

We answered them positively in unison. 
It was at that moment that we heard a sharp, loud noise 
that was echoed and amplified through the stone walls
and penetrated our bodies.  

First, I thought it was gunfire. 
The shock on arrival had been news that two thousand people 
were expected, because there hadd been a leak to the press 
breaking our plans of solemn secrecy, and someone had already
planted a stink bomb  at the back of the church. Philadelphia Police
had cleared out the bomb and formed a security guard. 

Second, knowing that a person could be shot without feeling it, 
I looked down to check my alb for a red stain, and then up and
down the row to check my sisters, and then our bishops, and 
was relieved to see no blood on any of us. 

Third, I was shocked at my own first supposition, 
that someone would be shooting a gun in church during a service.
But there was reason for my assumption.

On June 30, Alberta King— 
mother of Martin Luther King, Jr. and daughter of the turn 
of the century pastor of the Ebenezer Church in Atlanta where 
her son Martin had inherited the mantle— had been shot to death
sitting at the organ of the church where her family’s ministries 
had led and served for four generations. It was six years after 
her son’s assassination by gunfire and one day less than a month before our ordination day on July 29, 1974.

We were all momentarily frozen and no one was breathing. 

Then, we later were told, it became clear that a major network
television camera had fallen onto the stone floor 
producing the frightening noise. 
The service continued.

The main photograph that rushed out to the national media 

via the Associated Press was taken just before or 
just after that terrible moment.  

The photo was of such historical significance 
that I thought I should include it in my archival account.   
I dreaded the task, mostly for the physical work involved.  
The emotional cost did not come upon me until I progressed
along backwards through the layers of time to the trunk load
of documents from those hard, hard, overwhelming and 
often dangerous days. 

Into the closet I went, to what amounted to my attic space 
in a corner of the guest room. Opening the door, first I saw
stored luggage and then Christmas decorations with hibernating Christmas bears guarding them. 

Then a score of photograph albums from birth through 
Phil's and my wedding day and on through until now; 
then cameras and film and frames and hangers 
and blankets, and finally, behind everything, The Box, 
stuffed with the brimming content of the first few years 
of aftermath and not opened in nearly two decades when 
I’d last squeezed in some new material, for it continues
relentlessly to emerge. 

On top of the Box were ten to eighteen years of saved related
newspapers and magazines, special awards, liturgies, gifts
from grateful second and third generation women ordained
to the priesthood, and deacons and laywomen. 

Layer by layer I lifted these true treasures.  
They wanted sorting and reviewing, and 
the day moved on without me from noon to dusk 
and darkness while I went backward in time 
until The Box itself was free. 

I pulled it forward from the back of the shelf
at my chest level but could not lift it out, 
for it weighed a fourth my own weight.

Leaving everything else in piles on the floor and the beds, 
I carefully opened the weight of the years and began to dig
down inside it, removing pile after pile and laying them
crisscross for easy return. There they were at the bottom 
of it all, the original scrapbooks from when I still tried 
to keep up with the volume and place each item neatly 
between the pages. Three huge books were thus filled,
covering only the first few years.   

In the earliest, where the picture I wanted would logically be,
it was not. 

While scanning headlines on my way through, I tried not to 
slow myself down by reading anything that was not my search object. 
I found long articles with pictures from The Chicago Tribune, 
The San Francisco Chronicle, Ms. Magazine, Time Magazine, 
Life Magazine, Newsweek, The Oregonian 
(beginning in 1971 with the article and accompanying 
picture of my breakthrough ordination to the diaconate 
at Portland’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral at the top of the front page, 
three days before our wedding).

My eye caught headlines from local papers 
around the country and some from abroad, 
when a particularly painful event stood out  
in a paper from Akron, Ohio, with a large  
picture of five of us eleven.

We were vested for Eucharist and on the sidewalk 
walking toward a church for a Eucharistic liturgy 
before the ecclesiastical trial of the Rev. Peter Beebe,  
in which lawyers for his side and the side of the bishop 
would argue for a verdict to allow or not allow him 
to continue his own priestly ministry— for having disobeyed
his bishop’s order to forbid any of us, his sister priests, 
from functioning as priests in his church during the years 
of limbo before the church as a whole conceded 
that we existed and were validly ordained. 
Until then, anyone who affirmed this reality by offering us
full ministerial hospitality was in violation of the male bishops’ 
consensus that we did not exist and we were not priests. 

It began to come back to me, the queasy feeling, 
the heaviness of the years. The whole absurd controversy. 
My own Wisdom House altar and people were waiting 
while I had to be out on the road attending such nonsense,
the fuss over events in which Christians were simply
worshiping together. But the events themselves were blessed, 
filled with the fresh breath of the Holy Spirit,  as Divine Grace
came into the atmosphere we breathed.

Ah, there was that extraordinary front page 
of The National Catholic Reporter, 
covered with four beautiful photographs of a young 
Roman Catholic bearded male priest and me 
concelebrating the Holy Eucharist— 
raising the bread and wine to be consecrated, 
raising our hands in prayer  at the altar together, 
as naturally as men and women of faith consecrated 
for sacramental service should do. 
I remembered the collective nervous breakdown 
those pictures had caused three Episcopal bishops 
and at least two Roman Catholic Archbishops, and how 
the young male priest was punished along with his staff.   

I remembered preaching that Advent evening 
on Liberation Theology, and seeing the eager faces 
of the Episcopal priest and congregation in the front pew 
who had come to hear me preach and receive Holy Communion 
from me at the University of Wisconsin Madison campus
Roman Catholic Newman Center, because the local 
Episcopal Bishop had ordered all his diocesan clergy
not to allow any woman "so-called" priest to set foot on
Episcopal Church property, in the style of a medieval
interdict, so the Canterbury Club congregation figuratively
had to go to Rome to worship with a female Anglican priest
from the neighboring state of Minnesota where I lived 
at the time. I remembered how my local bishop later 
called me in to ask me to give him the name 
of the Roman Catholic bishop so he could 
write a letter of apology.

Without expression of any kind I said that his name 
was Cletus O’Donnell, but for some bizarre reason he sent 
the letter to Bill Cousins, Archbishop of Milwaukee, instead. 

It worked out fine since I was due to speak at an
Archdiocesan Sisters’ sponsored evening event 
in Milwaukee two weeks later, so I’d come apologized for 
in advance. The worst of that event was that John Birch
Society members were planted in the audience, and 
one of the women rose from the back of the room to say, 
“The devil speaks cleverly, and we have heard the devil 
here tonight.”

Her cold unblinking gaze directly aimed at me chilled me 
to the core. I asked the Sisters to get me out of Dodge and
take me to the airport at once, for I’d felt the icy air of malice
that marks cold hell.   

The Box was full of such memories that I had no wish to visit,
though the people involved who’d invited and welcomed me 
made lovely memories. Jewish people and Unitarian people 
and Roman Catholic laywomen and Sisters were among 
the most hospitable and kind.

Then I remembered some of the invitations I’d received
from Episcopal churches elsewhere in different parts of the country,
invitations which were later rescinded by order of the local bishop,
or from pressure from wealthy anti-feminist church members—
slights which I simply shrugged off.

I was once in a downtown Minneapolis congregation, 
a stately gray stone church, to sign copies of Womanpriest following 
a noon Eucharist. I was downstairs in the bookstore preparing 
before the liturgy, standing in a back area where I could not be seen 
by a group of three self-appointed ladies who were not ladylike 
in their verbal assault on the owner— 

“We don’t want that woman in our church.
You must call off this heinous event and get her out of here.”
The owner held her ground, and when the gang of protesters
turned around in anger to go back upstairs and worship,   
they did not know who I was when they saw me  looking at them.

When I gave them Holy Communion later,
they piously bowed their heads and held up their hands
to receive the Body of Christ, perhaps not daring to look at me again,
though I do not think that they felt shame. 

Despite such grueling experiences, I did my duty
and went on to bear witness wherever I was asked.

I continued my dig in The Box. My eye was caught by 
a Minneapolis Tribune article, featuring a good picture of me 
in my clerical collar, headlined “Woman Priest Collects Unemployment.” I didn’t remember the article and was embarrassed by the fact that 
the press had exploited my position.

I did remember standing in an unemployment line 
on Good Friday, 1975, and the kind man who spoke 
with me and quoted John Milton—
“They also serve who only stand and wait.”
As I recall, I wasn’t trying to collect unemployment benefits,
but to find employment through the secular State Employment Office,
since no ecclesiastical institution would have me,
which turned out to be a terrific blessing.

As time went on and hateful behavior continued from church members,
it became more and more clear to me that I wouldn’t have them, either.
I developed an allergy to institutional toxins which has activated my 
discernment and made it more accurate as a caution against exposing 
myself to hostilities, and it has freed me to be true to God’s lead in my life for the shaping of service as I’ve been able to do it, 
without compromise, which would have been impossible 
had I been tightly tethered by any institution,
whether academic or ecclesiastical. I remain grateful 
to be a priest of Christ within the Episcopal Church, 
I cherish its heritage, and am grateful to have contributed, 
in concert with many others, a call to justice and integrity 
to it along the way.
During this period I was able to be supportive 
of Roman Catholic women seeking priestly ordination, 
and women seeking equal rights in other faith traditions 
as well.

In August, 1974, I'd accepted an invitation 
to attend the Roman Catholic ex-priests and ex-nuns
Federation of Christian Ministries annual convention.
Theologian Rosemary Ruether was to have delivered 
the keynote address. She was ill and unable to come, 
but had sent a copy of her prepared text. I volunteered 
to deliver it, making use of my recently completed 
doctorate in the oral interpretation of literature. 

I was wearing a clerical collar and a clergy dress with long sleeved 
black top and flared black and white paisley skirt and
matching stole with black fringe,  which I wore draped over
both shoulders, visually reminiscent of priestly vestments 
and clerical street garb combined.

During the address, with a raised finger to point out an idea, 
I paused and said in my own words, “To paraphrase Jesus,
'the words which I am about to speak are not my own but
those of the one who sent me.'”

Rosemary had written something like, “I am a Catholic theologian 
who trains men to be priests, but my church says 
that I cannot be a priest because I am a woman.”

I looked at the audience to see if they got the visual joke.
The cognitively dissonant irony of visual and aural messages 
playing against each other had not been wasted. They were grinning.

That same group invited me to return as a speaker and workshop leader
at their 1978 convention at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Phoenix
while I was on book tour with Womanpriest in October, 1978. 

During the day, I led a sacred dreams workshop 
with the women in the group, most of whom had been
members of Roman Catholic religious orders  for much  
of their lives, and some of whom currently felt the stirrings 
of a call  to the priesthood, especially since the male priesthood 
was dwindling, though not yet in the throes of the scandal 
of horrifying abuses of children and others  
that would be revealed in decades to come. 

As we women talked about dreams, I told them about a dream I'd had 
years before, in which I was at a retreat center with a group of women 
who were preparing to be ordained to the priesthood the next day. 
I was talking with them about the occasion, brushing their hair 
as an older sister would, reassuringly comforting their fears   
of persecution.  

There was laughter also, and the sense of Divine Spirit among them 
was high. Still in the dream, on the next day, everyone was vested, 
the ordinands in white albs, and I in a purple and burgundy cope. 
We were in a beautiful garden and the sun was shining, but unlike 
my own priestly ordination day, it was not too hot. 

Two by two, the many ordinands walked down onto an open 
grassy area and stood in oval formation~ then, I followed, 
and ordained each woman with the kiss of peace, the traditional 
and ancient gesture of Welcome. 

In my waking life on the day after the dream, a woman preparing 
for ordination in the conservative Presbyterian ministry came to talk 
with me about her concerns of negative repercussions, because she 
also would be the first woman in her portion of the church to be ordained.  She told me she'd had a dream in which she was hiding behind a protective pillar. We talked about the pillar representing Christ. I told her the dream that I had the night before, and she smiled, 
finding herself within the great community of women 
called to ordained ministries.  

I assured her that she was not alone, and that all of us in different 
traditions needed to go on supporting each other and praying 
together ecumenically, in order to be strong enough to live out 
our vocations faithfully. And so we have done.  

Years later in Phoenix, I told this whole story about how my soul
care client and I had inter-relating dreams on the same night 
relevant to her coming experience of ordination. The women 
in the workshop told their own dream stories, and we marveled 
together at how Divine Spirit can speak to us this way, and 
commented on biblical accounts of sacred and prophetic dreams.

On that same day, the final day of the conference,   
there was to be an evening liturgy. I was asked  to preside 
at the Holy Eucharist. The male priests  were to wear vestments  
and sit in the pews with clusters of their own 
informal congregations  around them.

I entered the chapel from the back and immediately knew 
that the visuals were wrong. The three women with me sensed it also.
I said to them, “This isn’t right. Please stay with me and follow my lead.
I don’t know what we’re going to do, but it will come to me.”

During the Liturgy of the Word, we sat together in an area perpendicular
to the altar and congregants on the Gospel side. At the offertory hymn,
I said to them, “Come with me and stand beside me.”
We moved to the altar as one. 
When the hymn was over I made an announcement.
“We cannot continue until there’s been a correction here.
Roman Catholic women are being called to the priesthood
and denied access to ordination by the male hierarchy.
Yet they must be true to their calling.

“Many women are serving their communities as virtual priests
while no male priest is available. These dedicated women
have been ordained by the Spirit of God— as the Early Church
acknowledged baptism by water or by fire and desire, so we
must also acknowledge ordination by demand and desire.
The God and the people demand, and the women desire
to respond as sacramental ministers whom we call priests.

“I won’t wear vestments at the altar tonight
without my Roman Catholic sisters being able
to wear them with me.” I removed my stole and
put it around the shoulders of the woman on my left.
I removed the braided cincture from around my waist
and put it around the waist of the woman on her left.
I removed my alb and held it up for the woman on my right
to put it on and wear it. 

A male priest in one of the pews took off his vestments
and laid them on the pew, saying I won’t wear false symbols either.

“Now we can continue the Eucharistic liturgy with integrity, though 
we must remember that this integrity has not been officially achieved 
in the Roman Catholic Church, and we must work to make it so.” 

The effect was stunning. Immediately the room grew larger and
the Holy Spirit pushed against the walls as if to round them out. 
After the powerful Eucharist we had celebrated together, 
I stood outside under the stars with Marita, Jessie and Phyllis. 
The night air of Phoenix was warm. We were all still charged 
by what had happened during the liturgy, feeling a deep and 
lasting bond among ourselves. Then one of them said with a gasp, 
"Your dream! It was your dream come true and including us!"

This was one of many spontaneous symbolic events
in which I participated that pushed against the walls
and increased the sense of Spirit present among us
in the human family as we focused on moving
into greater integrity, which begins with respect,
inclusivity and justice, and a willingness to change
when change is the only way to go on.

In the last chapter of Womanpriest, I had written about the sacredness
of being a river priest for river people, not confined by static shore life,
but being carried along by a current of living waters into a creative
and healing way of being who we are, exercising the freedom
which the river gives ~ to stop and visit either shore and explore
the possibilities there, and then to keep moving forward again,
each time made larger than before by newly found friendships
with kindred spirits.

Through the incorporation of Wisdom House in 1976 
as an ecumenical religious non-profit corporation 
and feminist spirituality and healing center, I’ve been able 
to move creatively with the need of the times in interfaith 
and artistic collaborations across the land, 
which have enriched and brought meaning  
to communities of all kinds.

One such witness was the trip I made to Israel during late Lent in 1987.
My Episcopal travel agent and world humanitarian organizer friend 

Mary had invited her Methodist friend Martha, 
who was the religion editor and prize-winning writer 
for the then Minneapolis Star Tribune, and me 
and a Roman Catholic priest, rector of St. Joan of Arc 
where I’d preach on Pentecost/Mother’s Day, May 22, 1980, while Mt. St. Helen’s across the Columbia River from Oregon’s Mt. Hood 
was undergoing her second major eruption, unbeknownst to me. 
During my sermon on the Pentecost Scripture readings, 
I held up a large framed professional photograph 
of my own Mt. Hood at Sunset, clothed in colors of fire.

I spoke of the Holy Spirit as a live volcano, whose tongues of fire
rise up from the deep heart of God as from deep Mother Earth.
I commented that like all mothers including the Holy Spirit,
sometimes a volcano has to blow its top.

And then I read my non-anthropomorphic trinitarian poem,
“In the Name of the Bee and the Bear and the Butterfly.”

The immediate effect of a such a powerful geological event
can be devastating, but the long range effect can have lasting
positive results, as volcanic eruptions through the shield or
breast-shaped cinder cone volcanoes bring rich nutrients
from Earth’s mantle up to the surface, where they 
immediately begin to fertilize all growing things 
in the ground.

At Mt. St. Helens, even before the ashes cooled,
infant pine trees, released by heat from their cones,
had begun to sprout green shoots, shaping a springtime
born safely from fire.

Years later, from time to time, members of St. Joan’s 
who also are lifetime Wisdom House members would 
send me Sunday morning programs featuring my soul 
children poems, and on Mother’s Day, my new 
millennium poem, “Before Jesus Was His Mother,” 
has sometimes been read in the liturgy on Mothers’ Day. 
We were fortunate that day at St. Joan’s when Mothers’ Day
coincided with the Feast of Pentecost.   

The priest who’d invited me to preach at St. Joan's was named Harvey,
but for our pilgrimage of four to the Holy Land with Mary and Martha,
I called him Lazarus in honor of their brother. Martha the journalist 
asked us pertinent theological questions in the car as we drove north 
from Jerusalem into the Galilee and up into the panhandle between 
Lebanon and Syria, where guns pointed down on us and the local 
residents from every direction. We were in the home of the birthplace 
of the River Jordan, born of the snows of Mt. Hermon in Syria, 
melting and branching into three streams and joining as one about 
where we were in the far north near Dan Banias, where the true site 
of the Transfiguration of Christ is believed by scholars to have 
happened, up in a high place near the Golan Heights.  

Martha asked the three of us, “Do you believe in the miracles of Jesus
as literal events?” Harvey responded that his faith would not be shaken
even if the body of Jesus himself were discovered, for the stories are 

so powerful as metaphor that he could accept them with full meaning 
at that level of depth, and the moral teachings of Christ 
would be equally strong.

I agreed with what Harvey had said about our faith not hinging
on a magic show, and the integrity of the power of  metaphor
standing on its own, but added that I personally also believe
that most of the stories really happened, because, as 
the New Physics demonstrates, anything can happen, 
and what we don’t know and can’t understand 
of space-time reality is as infinite as the universe itself.

The current dominant theory that the Creator, Who can after all 
do anything, has given birth to an infinite cosmos supplants 
the old limited idea of a finite universe . . . but again, who can know?

We can’t even imagine such a world, based on
the superstring theory which now presupposes more than
twenty dimensions, and I can barely cope with four!

The Creator moves steadfastly and mysteriously throughout

ongoing Creation. In addition to the ordinary miracles we’re so used to 
that we don’t think of them as miracles, strange and wondrous things 
happen everywhere~ mysterious moment by miraculous moment, 
all the time without ceasing. Knowing many, 
I can say that no one will be more in awe of this reality
than a true scientist.

I celebrated the Holy Eucharist for all of us together on the shore
of the Sea of Galilee, near a sacred Jewish cemetery south of Tiberius
a few days later. Martha took several beautiful pictures during and after
our liturgy of Great Thanksgiving, and composed an exquisitely reverent
Easter Sunday front page lead story for the Star Tribune,

using the headings of The Book of Common Prayer Eucharistic Rite, 
from both the Intercessions and the Prayer of Consecration,
to structure her story.

She quoted Harvey’s and my responses to her miracles question.
After that, I received phone calls and mail from people saying,
“I’m sorry to hear that you’ve lost your faith.” 

They were blaming me for what Harvey had said,
and furthermore, they completely missed the depth
of his own declaration of faith and devotion
to the Living Christ, no matter what.

I sigh even in re-telling of the story’s revealing end.
Human beings of both sexes will ever blame the woman
for what they take to be infractions obviously committed by some man,
even if the infractions themselves were nothing of the kind.

And they will blame her more vehemently if they perceive—
that is misperceive— that she is an uppity woman.  

Back to The Box. A smaller version of the unemployment story was
stuck to the back of the longer version, and folded over, with another
not bad photograph leading the brief two paragraphs, stating that 

I was in fact collecting unemployment benefits. 
I do not remember such benefits, but perhaps they were
calculated as what I would have received had I applied. 
Someone had apparently sent this small piece of malice to me
anonymously, unsigned and in a no-return-address envelope—
for I thought it odd that the article had heavily inked
hand-writing across it, and wondered why
someone would write over the text
of an article like that.

I made out some of the badly written words, which to my shock
nearly forty years later read:  “. . . sleazy . . . taking tax payers [sic] 
money . . . get a job as chaplain in a brothel . . .” 
There was more but I did not further  
contaminate my eyes and hands.
I put everything back in The Box quickly, re-ordered the closet
with its contents of bears and Christmas and happy memories
in hundreds of meaningful photographs all neatly arranged,
left the room in a pristine state and took a long hot shower
after washing my hands with hot soapy water five times.

I do not think I shall open that box again in my lifetime.

I bless the sheets of  paper on which I write these words,
and pray the weight of these things will not be as heavy  
on them as it was landing like a boulder again on my heart. 

It is enough and more than enough to have lived through such things
only once—  There is no need for me to relive them again 
in remembrance.

Days later now, I decided last night to see what’s on the compact disc
an archival historian had sent me with articles related to our ordinations
from The New York Times, 1974 – 2008. This was on top of The Box,
and I’d set it aside to review later.

Scrolling through the documents, I still didn’t find the July 30, 1974
article and The New York Times or Associate Press photo, and began 
to think I’d mis-remembered, visualizing The Philadelphia Inquirer front page instead of the Times, so my fable about bumping Watergate 
from the top to the bottom of the Times front page 
may be just that, a mere fable produced by memory 
heavily colored by imagination, as happens when the brain
cannot manage the sheer volume of detail 
in the mind’s archives.

I did, however, find a charming Times article and beautiful photograph
of the Rev. Patricia Park, a deacon at the time, who was greeting
new President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford at the door of her church
after services the Sunday following the Philadelphia Ordinations.
The article said that the President had enthusiastically praised her 
sermon, and both Gerry and Betty were most impressed 
by its topic— the Philadelphia Ordinations and 
the role of women in Church and Society!
She had described the high significance of the event 
beyond church walls, ranging out to touch the lives, 
minds and spirits of oppressed women globally, 
that our act was symbolic of personal integrity 
and the creation of justice for all people.

When asked what he himself thought about the event 
and the people involved, President Ford went presidentially prudent
and said he had no comment before learning much more about it.
Still, everyone was beaming and joyous in the photo, and that’s what
they were discussing. It’s good to know, these trials and decades later,
that on the Sunday after our Day, in response to the words of a bright
young deacon who would later follow us into the priesthood,
we wowed the President.

And some years after that— giving thanks for a successful recovery
of my father from a decades long nightmarish addiction to prescription
drugs, originally administered for lifelong asthma— 

I happened to attend Sunday services at St. Margaret’s
Episcopal Church in Rancho Mirage near where 
my father had lived and died.

The intervention three years earlier had coincided with Vern Johnson’s
being in the area to help set up the Betty Ford Treatment Center
at Eisenhower Hospital in Palm Desert, which would open
the following year.

Knowing that Vern would be nearby, I arranged for him 
and his colleague at Eisenhower to lead the intervention.
Vern Johnson was an Episcopal priest in my canonical
Diocese of Minnesota, where he'd founded the Johnson Institute 
in the Twin Cities, Mecca of the medical model of addiction recovery.

By 1984, Betty Ford was long famous as a spokesperson for breast cancer
research and treatment, and for the recovery movement for alcoholism 
and other addictions.

It happened that the Sunday I attended their home parish, 
the Fords were present at the Eucharist. I quietly slipped out 
from the aisle seat of my pew near the wall to write Betty Ford 
a thank you note for her ministry.
Her life was redemptive in every respect and her living out
witness to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic values relentlessly
expressed in the Gospels by Rabbi Yeshua, whom Christians
regard as the Living Christ, was a beautiful role model 
for all people.

I told her so in my note, written on the back of the bulletin
or a scrap of paper I’d found. I had no thought of meeting her after
the service, but instead stepped outside where their car was parked
in front of the church doors and unobtrusively gave my note to the Fords’
driver, who assured me with a sweet smile and a tip of his hat
that he would see that Ms. Ford received my message.

I donned my black clerical suit and white collar very rarely
from the beginning, wearing it more often after my ordination
to the diaconate and through the early years after my ordination
to the priesthood and on many public speaking occasions
in the early years, then moved away from the formality
of the professional uniform and title, especially as news
about abusive clergy began to fill the newspapers.
The atrocities committed by male clergy
were a scandal to me as well as
to the rest of the world.
I decided to reserve formal professional attire
for the most important and public situations.

The last time I wore my clerical collar was for a television
interview in 1992, when I was asked to respond to 
the British Synod of Bishops and Parliament approving 
the ordination of women to the priesthood in England.

They had yet to approve the ordination of women to the episcopate
(Sacred Order of Bishops) but were working on it in 2010. 
[It was finally approved by all three houses of the General Synod—
Laity, Clergy (priests and deacons) and Bishops
on Bastille Day, July 14, 2014.]

I originally wrote this memoir fragment while going through my archives
in late August, 2006, and when I looked at this writing on July 18, 2012,
The London Times  and BBC television reported:

“Church wants women bishops, Vatican says No.” In other words,
women in all levels of ordained authority would spoil ecumenical 
relations between Rome and Canterbury.

This argument was an insult to all female Episcopalians forty years ago  
when it was used to block women from the priesthood, because it was 
tantamount to saying that agreement between men from different traditions was more important than agreement between men and women within their own tradition.  

Their own women members simply don’t count.
Male ego strikes again, proclaiming its hegemony 
over what is right and just.

Regarding women, the effort to compromise with oppression 
is the same as allowing slave owners who couldn’t let go 
of their family tradition to go on keeping their slaves bound 
after the Emancipation Proclamation and
the Union victory for justice.

The Observer and The Guardian reported that the vote for women 
in the bishopric (as the English often refer to the episcopate) failed 
because  it included a bid by ultra-patriarchal African bishops through 
the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to add compromise amendments that would  “protect them from female ministry.” 
One wonders how this went down with their own mothers.

That day at St. Margaret’s, I was dressed in normal street clothes,
as is my custom. I simply told the Fords’ driver that I was a priest
among the first eleven women ordained in 1974, hoping that 
information would motivate him to safeguard and deliver my note.

He nodded and smiled broadly in recognition.
When I told him that I didn’t want to intrude on the Fords,
he assured me it would be no intrusion, but much appreciated
by the former First Lady. In my book, she remains a First Lady.
And I am glad to have had the opportunity to let her know.

            Alla Renée Bozarth  

Purgatory Papers
copyright 2014 

The Archbishop of Canterbury Meets with the Pope, Again   

I’ve been in rooms like that at the Vatican.  
A small nook in the honeycomb, complete with lofty ceiling,
drafts and the Persian rug. You can smell antiquity and
sterility mingling. 

Tears and laughter have taken place here, 
but more often tense posturing. There he is, 
our guy leaning forward across the table, 
the visitor, the guest summoned by grumblings, 
and the home guy with his back to the wall   
on the host side of the furnishings. 

Was it a clever coup? An insult? A dawn raid? 
The Pope opened his doors to disaffected Anglicans
seeking a suitable hiding place from change. 

They’ve never adjusted to liturgy in the common language 
after forty years of practice in contemporary vernacular, 
and they can’t stand the idea of men not being the only ones 
in skirts offering Divine Food at the altar.

They’ve had thirty-five years to learn to be gracious 
when a woman priest offers them Holy Communion, or 
a pregnant pastor enlightens them about thanksgiving and generosity and what living in the image of Christ might mean.

But what they say they can’t stomach, the last straw, 
the thing they refuse to swallow, and so forth, is 
institutional acceptance of homosexuality. 
Well, for heaven’s sake.  
Anyone who still thinks that it’s an unnatural abomination 
knows nothing about how God-created Nature regulates population, 
or how generous Nature is in allowing beings to love whom they love, 
and let this love help increase the health of the planet and our species.

How does creativity transpire and how do new species form if not by
individuals branching out from the mandated norms? On the level 
of conscious change for the greater good of Creation,would they 
impede God's creative and inspiring evolutionary processes 
of adaptation to reality?

A new species of loving kindness consciousness is what can manifest  
from all this senseless conflict, once people stop feeling threatened  
by behavior that deviates from unnaturally rigid norms.

Too bad for the ex-Anglican refugees in Rome. 
It won’t be long (within another century should do it, 
and sooner, please God) before their last refuge of choice 
(other than Eastern Orthodoxy) has more women priests
than Anglicana, and all the gay prelates come out of their 
closets in the College of Cardinals to celebrate and bless 
the marriages of women and men, though not necessarily 
with each other, but all the same, with someone they intend 
to love for life. 

The celebration of love and respect in the acceptance  of diversity—
What could be more God-like than that?          

Alla Renée Bozarth     
Purgatory Papers
Copyright 2014

Re-vision of Life is Where We Begin 

Beyond anger, beyond blame,
beyond shame and despair~
when you can’t cope with a situation—

Friend, start walking around it
until you come to an angle of vision
you can live with.

Make walking sticks of poems and prayers.

It may take you several turns, with cursing
and crying and shouting to God and
muttering to yourself and scolding
everybody involved, but keep on
walking around it and blinking,
wiping your eyes, 
clearing cobwebs
from your mind.

And in a moment of Grace you may stop
and see what might be a revelation.
It will open your heart
and relax your mind.
It will give you a way to proceed
without further destruction.

That’s where your real work begins, 
for you will have already done
the necessary preparations.

Alla Renée Bozarth

Purgatory Papers
copyright 2014

and Vietnam Docupoem
Blurb Booksmart, 2013. 

 Solitary Witness—  In Memory of Her

    Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached
throughout the world, 
    what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.

 Matthew 26:13    

Mary, of the fishing town of Migdal or Magdala, prospered in Galilee,
yet she suffered— perhaps those many devils known 
by everyone besieged in the talons of depression— 
anger, futility, sadness, fatigue, physical distress,
flatness of spirit and no sense of access to the core self or soul.

Then she met Someone, a rabbi, scholar 
and carpenter who had friends 
in the fishing  profession.
He recognized and acknowledged
who she really was—
You are a great heart, 
a generous and loving soul,
a born leader, brilliant and brave 

and you have the gift 
of a wise and 
independent spirit 
needed for the work  that we do.

Then he invited her to join them.

She may have been that generous woman who anointed
his feet with precious ointment, and perhaps from envy
was rebuked for wastefulness by other disciples. Jesus said,
“Who else among you has shown such courage and love?”
and promised that she would be remembered for it,
calling her prophet indeed by defending her with
the recognition that she was preparing his body for burial.

Though she bore the envy of men who craved first position,
she embraced the honor of being chosen the one closest to
his heart, first among equals, apostle to the apostles, heartbroken
and solitary witness to Christ’s resurrection, entrusted companion.

This liberated woman was known by God to be the one strong enough
to leave the Beloved, in order to fulfill his desire that she tell this
astonishing truth to the others, whether they believed it or not,
and to call them out of hiding and move them to attend.

Later she was driven away by lesser powers 
across the Mediterranean Sea, 
shipwrecked by storm and her own destiny, 
and came to the French port
of Marseilles, then some time after that went to Italy.

The Gospel reached across the sea through her well-seasoned voice.
Making her way to Rome to confront the tyrant there, she preached
to Tiberius Caesar, telling him about Yeshua’s birth, life, unjust death
and resurrection, holding an egg in her hand to illustrate the miracles
of birth and rebirth.

The emperor interrupted her, scoffing dismissively, saying
“A person could no more rise up from the dead back into life
than that egg in your hand could turn red,” whereupon, it did,
followed by his astonished and egg-shaped face.

Led by her strong hearted compassion and divine inspiration,
for many years of her ministry Mary served and healed those
who were sick in body or soul in southern France, taught
and preached to all who would receive her without prejudice.

At last, her perceptive work among others done,
she came to fulfill a deeper calling of solitude
to the creative contemplative life.

Mary Magdalene retired to the home prepared for her by angels,
and lived her last thirty years alone and unknown in forests of Provence.

Where else for such a woman to prepare for heaven
than in the company of angels and harmonious
natural neighbors, and in the South of France?

To this day French bakers honor her holy presence 
in their own homeland
by creating the sweet delicate pastry named Madeleine, 
made with butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and wheat, 
the taste of honey, the color of gold—
and, in memory of her deliverance to them by storm, 
they are borne from the bakers’ fire 
in the shape of a seashell.

Poem by Alla Renée Bozarth 
in Purgatory Papers, copyright 2013

The sculpture at the top is called “Christ Appears to Mary Magdalene
at the Empty Tomb.” The sculptor is Bruce Wolfe, and the work is part of an Easter scene at Mission Santa Barbara, California.

And then, a new breakthrough!
April 29, 2017

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Barbara Harris, first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church who was consecrated as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts on February 11, 1989, with the newly consecrated Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of the Diocese of Indianapolis~ first female African American diocesan bishop on April 29, 2017! Hooray for the Episcopal Church and the Great Communion!

Note: A bishop suffragan (or suffragan bishop) is comparable to an associate director of an organization, while a diocesan bishop is the bishop fully in charge, a kind of president of a diocese, which is a geographical area with a certain number of churches in its jurisdiction, usually the same as a state or province, or a portion of a large state or province. Another type of bishop, a bishop coadjutor, is one who serves as a kind of vice-president to the diocesan bishop's president, in line to become diocesan bishop on the retirement of the incumbent. 

                                             O Happy Day!

From Bishop Baskerville-Burrows' Timeline on the Day of Her Episcopal Consecration~

"Don't expect to arrive at a place of knowing.
You are on the road of discovering, my friend,
and the flame in your heart
will only inconstantly let you know
that there also walks the Beloved, who yearns
only for this one passionate delight
above all the glories of heaven:
every moment, even the least memorable,
the least noticed at all,
simply to be with you."

(Steve Garnaas-Holmes, The Road)

Bishop Barbara Harris stands behind Bishop Baskerville-Burrows. I am going to call Barbara in a few days and rejoice with her, the cross-bearer at the Philadelphia Ordinations in 1974, who became the first woman to be consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church on February 11, 1989, when she began her episcopate as the Bishop Suffragan (with more authority than an assistant bishop and less than a diocesan bishop) of the Diocese of Massachusetts, and here she is, resplendent at this happy occasion in 2017. I imagine it is a day of fulfillment for her in the same way that the day of her consecration was for me as one of the Philadelphia Eleven. 

Our priestly ordinations seemed like Part One of a sweeping saga, a journey into fulfillment, still fraught with frustrations and obstacles for women and LGBT clergy as it will be for a long time to come, but it was a beginning. Witnessing Bishop Harris' consecration I thought, "This is Part Two of our ordination day." The election and investiture of our first female Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori in 2006, was Part Three, and Bishop Baskerville-Burrows' consecration as the first African American female diocesan bishop is Part Four~ from breakthrough to completion of movement to the beginning of a new level of wholeness for the Episcopal Church. 

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows with her family~ husband Harrison Burrows and their son, Timothy.

"Her ascension is historic. The denomination, which spans the United States and 17 other countries, has seen a few black female bishops in assisting roles. But never has the Episcopal Church chosen a black woman to lead a diocese.

“'Like all positions of leadership in the church and corporate America, being first is a wonderful thing,' she said, seated in a dark wooden pew in the cathedral. 'It’s breaking the stained glass ceiling.'”
"Baskerville-Burrows, 50, was elected last fall at the diocesan convention and replaces the retiring Right Rev. Catherine M. Waynick. To mark the occasion, 44 bishops from throughout the United States and beyond will descend on Indianapolis for an installation ceremony set for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Butler’s Clowes Hall.

"As a black woman who grew up in the projects, Baskerville-Burrows might seem an unlikely person to lead an Indiana diocese where the vast majority of the parishioners are white. But her journey to this point is insightful."

"Baskerville-Burrows is the 26th woman elected bishop in the Episcopal Church and will be the 12th female diocesan bishop, as well as the 44th African-American bishop and the 1,100thbishop overall in the Episcopal Church’s history.

"The bishop-elect is also an enrolled member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a federally recognized tribe based on Long Island in New York. Her paternal grandfather was a Shinnecock member who grew up on the tribe’s reservation.

"Baskerville-Burrows became a Christian as a young adult and chose to join the Episcopal Church at Trinity Church Wall Street in lower Manhattan. She was baptized there in 1989, the year after she graduated from college."…/

  A Celebration of Ongoing Ministry

Between Bishop Katharine's June 2006 Election and her 
November 1, All Saints Day Installation as Presiding Bishop, an August 2006 Wedding at Wisdom House is commemorated here in pictures on the 39th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations, July 29th 2013~   

Claudia Daly and Stan Kusunoki, poet friends in St. Paul, Minnesota, sent me a lovely card with a poem by Stan and a prose message from Claudia for the 39th anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations. They have pictures of their dancing priest along their stairway wall among their family photos. The picture on the card front was taken by Stan of a few members of the American Lady butterfly species who visited their purple asters and other flowers by the dozens a few summers ago. Claudia's message: "We feel so blessed to be loving observers of your life's work ~ Yes, participants and beneficiaries, too . . ."

For more than twenty years of friendship, I've been constantly inspired by the talents of these lovely people. Claudia has produced award winning programs for National Public Broadcasting. She created "For Kids' Sake Radio," and the landmark series, "The Lives of the Children" with classroom voice interviews by innovative teachers and students in schools around the country in keeping with the explorations of the great child psychiatrist and Harvard professor, Robert Coles. Before that she headed the radio unit of the William Benton Broadcast Project of the University of Chicago where she developed and was executive producer of three major award-winning series: 

"The Heart of the Story," "Speakers' Corner,"and for PBS and NPR,
"The Glory and the Power: Fundamentalisms Observed"   

Both Claudia and Stan have worked for Public Broadcasting on several levels over the decades. Currently, Stanley is a composer, musician, poet and tenured teacher of gifted children in the public school system. He was nominated for 2013 Minnesota Teacher of the Year by the Shakopee Public Schools. Claudia and Stan are each other's first hearers for the poetry that they write. They have given poetry readings together to wide acclaim in the Twin Cities. You can see why I cherish their friendship.

After decades of deepening friendship and mutual devotion, Claudia and Stan eloped over the mountains to the foot of Mt. Hood in Western Oregon and were married in a nuptial Mass at the backyard altar of Wisdom House on August 11, 2006.

Stanley Kusunoki and Claudia Hampston Daly
on their Wedding Day, August 11, 2006,
at Wisdom House in Sandy, Oregon,
with Best Man Bill Seach and Best Woman Nancy Worssam.
Long-time friends of the bride and groom, they are also married to each other.
They flew down from Seattle to witness and bless this wonderful event. 
The Rev. Alla Renée Bozarth, priest celebrant. 
Photos by Susan Linda-Kanne.    

And led by the radiant, rapturous couple, we danced with them!

Two years later they came to give and receive booster blessings in the holy surround of Nature and had another honeymoon in a their original rented long cabin named Zoe, the Greek word for Life, on the bank of the Sandy River, teeming with life and flowing strong with glacial melt from Mt. Hood. On Sunday they came to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in our chapel here, a spirited liturgy of poetry read by Claudia along with the Scripture readings from the lectionary and  original songs and music sung and played by Stan on his lovely guitar, Estrella. After Communion Claudia and Alla danced together around the altar and joined Stan in singing "Song of the Soul." Then I (Alla) joined them at Zoe's and feasted with them at the table which they prepared together. I got to help stir the risotto while Stan and Claudia tended to the festive salad and wine. It was altogether Heaven on Earth. 

The Sandy River from Zoe's Cabin Porch

In celebration of the 39th anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations:
American Lady Butterflies with purple asters by Stan Kusunoki 

So it was the feast day
of Saints Mary and Martha
That eleven American Ladies
robed not as butterflies but as priests
changed the world of faith
challenged the undoable
A brand new liturgical dance
that even today blows new life
like sirocco chipping away mountains
to sand the hierarchy made plain
and even
We watch with pleasure
as Alla leaps and spins

Stanley Kusunoki
 St. Paul, Minnesota

1999 Philadelphia Ordinations 25th anniversary  pictures.

The black choir of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Philadelphia came over to the Church of the Advocate to sing Gospel Songs for us. Their Spirit Songs moved me to sing with them with my whole body, uplifted feet and arms first. Centrifugal Motion helped it along. 

In 1794, St. Thomas parish was founded by the Rev. Absalom Jones, freed from slavery just ten years earlier. He was the first black person to be ordained in the Episcopal Church~ a man whose dignity and determination are shown in his portrait here


Post-communion Gospel dervish 
prayer dance.

In Memory of  Miriam the Prophet

Near the end of the silver anniversary service after Holy Communion, members of St. Thomas Episcopal Church who had come to sing at the Church of the Advocate offered their uplifting songs  and voices to God. The power and beauty of the Spirit-filled music moved me to break into a spontaneous dance of Praise and Thanksgiving.


Dancing toward the Promised Land

I, Miriam, took my tambourine
and finger cymbals with me
out of the land of slavery
with its daily insults and petty
exemptions, and so remain always
ready to dance on the long, long journey,
dance at every victory, beginning with
surviving the Passover, then the strange
occurrence when the Red Sea dried beneath
our feet as we ran, safely passing over the narrow
strip onto the Sinai Peninsula, all the way out
from the land of longing toward the storied memory of Home.

I danced to the song that spilled out of me,
loud up to Heaven, rejoicing on hopeful feet,
rejoicing with arms flying through warm air like wings,
and water followed me all the way through
the great desert, to keep the people alive and faithful.

God knows it may take a long time to return.
It’s been five hundred years, after all.
A long time gone, but our stories keep it alive
in our hearts. I wonder if I’ll live to see it from
the mountains across River Jordan. I wonder
if I’ll be an old woman, and dance down
the side of Mt. Nebo with arms wide open,
heart fluttering strong, leading the way
with cymbals and songs into the Promised Land.

  Alla Renée Bozarth  

My Blessed Misfortunes, copyright 2013. 
Also shown on the "Jerusalem" post and page. 

To read about Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" and how it was 
indirectly inspired by the Philadelphia Ordinations: 

The Philadelphia Ordinations in The Timetables of History  

  The  Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events, by Bernard Grun, based on Werner Stein's Kulturfahrplan, copyright 1946, 1963 by  F. A. Herbig Verlagsbuchhandlung, English Languagae Copyright 1975 by Simon and Schuster.

The Philadelphia Ordinations, with two errors, are cited on p. 576:
"Four U.S. Episcopal bishops defy church laws and ordain 11 women as priests." 

The first English Edition was published at the beginning of 1975 and the citing of the Philadelphia Ordinations thus arrives at the end of this volume, with these inaccuracies: there was no church (canon) law prohibiting women from the priesthood or episcopate, and discrimination against women ordained to the diaconate had been dealt with in 1970 when the sexist canon pertaining to ordained women was eliminated and all deacons were included under the same canon on the diaconate.  There was no church law that prohibited the ordination of women deacons to the priesthood, and by extension to the episcopate. Therefore, no prohibitive canon law was defied, but custom and practice were defied by virtue of being changed, and some of the technical requirements were impeded through no fault of the women, but by diocesan Standing Committees refusing to give their canonically required approval to the precedent-breaking ordinations. The second error in The Timetables was to say that four bishops ordained us. While four Episcopal bishops participated, only three actually ordained the eleven to the priesthood. The fourth, the in-office bishop of Costa Rica, was present in support of the event.

It's good to know that the Philadelphia Ordinations were regarded as a sufficiently significant event in the history of the human family to be included in this first English Edition of The Timetables of History. I see on the page for this book that two more copyrights exist with additional pages in 1979 and 1991, but we made the very end of the first 1975 English Edition which concluded with events in 1974. 

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