The board of Episcopal Women's Caucus (EWC) is among the several organizations meeting in Washington, D.C. November 2 and 3 in advance of the investiture and seating of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
The Caucus celebrated its 35th anniversary on October 30, and its board will be meeting with a consultant November 2 and 3 at the Diocese of Washington's Church House to set goals for the next triennium, and to celebrate the new ministry of the first female primate in the Anglican Communion. Caucus members will be seen around Washington with their trademark pink "It's a girl!" buttons with the name and date of the election of Jefferts Schori.
"It is an amazing occasion for those of us who have labored on behalf of women," said the Rev. Canon Carol Cole Flanagan, who served as EWC president from 1983-1988, in a news release. "When I took office in 1983 most members of the Caucus identified themselves as refugees from the various dioceses that would not ordain them, and there were no ordained women on the Presiding Bishop's staff and few in positions of leadership. We were still struggling for the election and appointment of lay women as well."
Since that time the EWC has celebrated the election of Pamela Chinnis as vice president and subsequently president of the House of Deputies, the election and consecration of Barbara C. Harris as Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts and the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion, and Vermont Bishop (now retired) Mary Adelia McLeod as the first female diocesan bishop in the U.S.
"This year deputy Bonnie Anderson of Michigan was elected President of the House of Deputies, and another glass ceiling has given way with the election as Presiding Bishop of Katharine Jefferts Schori," noted the Rev. Elizabeth M. Kaeton, current president of the EWC.
Established on October 30, 1971 at Virginia Theological Seminary, the Episcopal Women's Caucus grew out of a meeting of Episcopal women interested in professional ministry. According to the EWC release, the House of Bishops had just voted to refer the question of the ordination of women to yet another study committee after years of studies commissioned, received and shelved as recently as four years earlier.
The gathering sent a letter to then Presiding Bishop John Hines, signed by all 60 women, informing him that none of them would serve on such a committee if asked and that they would urge other women not to serve, as the time for study was long past, the release said. In signing the letter, the group constituted itself as the Episcopal Women's Caucus, pledged itself to organize women in various regions of the country and elected a representative steering committee. The Rev. Barbara Schlachter served as the first president of the Caucus. Today, its membership includes people in all orders of ministry, and approximately a third of the members are men, according to the release.
Members of the board are Elizabeth Kaeton, president; Carol Cole Flanagan, vice president; Ann Vandervoort, secretary; Byron Rushing, treasurer; and Elizabeth Morris Downie, Bishop Carol J. Gallagher, Nan Peete, and Beth Stifel.
Information about other pre-investiture meetings is available here.