Yesterday at St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood, we celebrated Mass with as many women as we could muster in honor of International Women’s Day. The Reverend Mother Susan Stanton, the chief financial officer for the LA Diocese, was our celebrant; Canon Ian Davies, served as deacon and preacher; I was the subdeacon; Stephen Kemp, master of ceremonies; Michelle Waterloo, thurifer; Kayla Ray, crucifer; and Jennifer Parker and Sarah Schulz, torches.
The opportunity to serve with such a strong contingent of women was both heartwarming and heartening. While there are now many women priests in the Episcopal church, 40% in the most recent statistics I could find, I still find it a reason to celebrate when I am among other women at the altar. Having grown up at a time when women were not allowed to be priests or even acolytes, I appreciate how far we have come; I also am always deeply touched when serving as a chalice bearer and see the wide eyes of little girls when I offer them communion. They clearly are pleased to see someone who looks like them among the people at the altar. It always makes me smile.
I was very happy to serve with Rev. Mo. Susan Stanton. She was open and kind and also a little nervous to be celebrating in a church as “high” as St. Thomas. We walked her through each step of our extensive ritual and when someone asked her how she felt, her response was “I appreciate feeling so supported.”
Supported. Maybe that’s why it is relevant to celebrate events such as International Women’s Day. We, as women, still have a distance to go before we can be assured that all women feel seen, recognized, and supported.
Hallelujah as we move further along in our quest for equality.
Jennifer, Len, Susan, and Sarah
(Unfortunately, Michelle and Kayla had already left when we took this photo.)