In an all too rare move, the Episcopal Women’s Caucus (an advocacy group within the Episcopal Church), faced with the completion of their original goal, has opted to cease operations; releasing their energy and capabilities to take root in other efforts and organizations working for justice.
After 47 years of facilitating transformation in The Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Women’s Caucus is taking the bold step of sunsetting the Caucus so that justice for women – lay and ordained – can continue to be pursued in the Church in new ways with new goals.
Founded in 1971, the Episcopal Women’s Caucus was formed to be a change agent in The Episcopal Church. Through political means, the Caucus had a singular strategic goal: to gain for women the right and privilege to be ordained to the priesthood and consecrated to the episcopate. The Episcopal Women’s Caucus has accomplished this.
Obviously, the work of gaining equity and justice for women is far from complete. The Church needs more women clergy serving in positions of leadership, including large congregations, cathedrals and the episcopate. The #Metoo Movement has made it clear the Church is as involved in sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse as any other institution in our society. Women of color are at particular risk living as they do at the intersection of race and gender. Gender non-conforming people are extremely vulnerable to violence and discrimination. Now more than ever the Church needs to continue to be a change agent within our congregations and out into our communities to “strive for justice and peace and [respect for] the dignity of every human being.”
This work – ranging from fighting for salary equity for women to ending sexual abuse and harassment to seeking racial reconciliation to caring for the most vulnerable among us – needs to be accomplished in new ways, ways which include the kinds of political gains made through the Caucus, but achieved through other strategies and with voices of people throughout the whole Church.
In this time of both opportunity and challenge in so many areas, having achieved the goals the Caucus was created to achieve, we believe the best way to serve the Church is to close the Caucus in order to make room for new and different vehicles for activism on women’s issues to rise. The decision to bring the Caucus to a close is in keeping with the Caucus’ history of providing leadership and creating space for prophetic visionary work.
At General Convention in July, the work of the Caucus will be acknowledged at a service of the Holy Eucharist, followed by an opportunity for fellowship. The liturgy of the Word at this Eucharist will be a celebration of the history of the Caucus and of women who have led TEC forth so bravely in transformation for women.
More information about activities at General Convention to celebrate the work of the Caucus will be forthcoming.
The members of the Board of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus are Terri Pilarski, Kate Bradsen, Amy Haynie, Robin Woods Sumners, and Janet Waggoner.