The Rev. Susan Slaughter, a transitional deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, is being ordained a priest in that diocese at 5 p.m. local time today. She's the first female to be ordained a priest in Ft. Worth by a bishop of that diocese -- The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. "Ted" Gulick Jr., who was provisional bishop until yesterday's vote to elevate The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl (ret. -- Northwest Texas) to the status of the same.
The firsts keep coming: at St. Luke's in the Meadow Episcopal Church in Ft. Worth, Slaughter will serve as the first female rector of a parish in that diocese.
The diocese is streaming live video of the ordination through its web site.
Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson wrote to those assembled for the occasion. Their letters are reproduced here in full.
From Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori:
November 12, 2009
To the faithful gathered for the ordination of Susan Slaughter:
I give thanks to God for this sign of resurrection in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Many thought this day would never arrive, but you have all been faithful, hopeful, and highly persistent - not unlike the importunate widow. May the Rev. Slaughter be a living witness to the ministry of such seekers after justice, and may the widow's gifts spread abroad throughout the Diocese of Fort Worth. There are many of the least of these who are in abundant need of those gifts.
Susan, may you bear lightly the symbol you become, knowing that it is Christ within you who bears all such burdens. May his light shine through you, and may those whom you help to gather around his table become his light-bearers as well.
With abundant gratitude for all the people of Fort Worth, I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Episcopal Church
From President Anderson:
To: The faithful, hopeful and persevering people of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick, Jr.
St. Luke's in the Meadow Episcopal Church
The Rev. Susan Slaughter
Today certainly makes the case for hope. Today is the day that many people have hoped for, prayed for, worked for, cried over, and lost sleep over. Today is the day when we see hope realized in God's time.
Today is the day that we will conjure up in our mind's eye when we are looking for reason to keep pressing on.
Today is the day we will recall when we seek inspiration and courage during difficult times.
After thirty-three years of struggle and prayer, confusion and angst, here we are, the Holy people of God, gathered together in the midst of Holy worship on Holy ground to give thanks to our beloved God who did not leave us alone.
The Episcopal Church is truly blessed by the commitment of the lay people, bishop and clergy of this diocese. You show us how God is working through all the baptized. You are an example of deep faithfulness.
Giving of gifts:
In the House of Deputies at the 76th General Convention in Anaheim in 2009, small wooden crosses were given to all the deputies, made by an artist from Eastern Oregon. Near the close of convention, the Diocese of Eastern Oregon presented me with a larger wooden cross made by the same artist. In their presentation they asked me to keep the cross until I felt the appropriate time to pass it on. Today is the time.
Susan and the Sr. Warden: This cross is passed to you and the people of St. Luke's in the Meadow. Please know it comes to you in peace and thanksgiving for your courage and your ministry. When you feel it is the appropriate time to pass it on, please do.
Bishop Gulick and Chair of the Standing Committee::
To the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth I present the official seal of the General Convention, inscribed from the House of Deputies. You are valued and beloved by the Episcopal Church as we all are one in the Body of Christ.
Bonnie Anderson, D.D.
President, The House of Deputies
...And we read this apt comment from blogger Susan Russell.
If you have to ask what the big deal is, I probably don't have time ... to explain it....
I guess it's like trying to explain to someone who wasn't alive then -- or old enough to pay attention -- what it meant when the Berlin Wall came down twenty years ago this week.