Celebrating a Big Step in a Friend’s Life

Class of 2012 with the Right Reverend Ross Bay and the Right Reverend Jim White

Class of 2012 with the Right Reverend Ross Bay and the Right Reverend Jim White

I timed my visit to New Zealand to celebrate my 50th birthday and to witness my dear friend UK Sarah’s ordination into the priesthood within the Anglican Church.  Her journey began with a deepening relationship with God through an Alpha course in England. Then realizing her call, pursuing seminary and becoming an ordained deacon. All before she moved to Auckland and we bumped into each other at Eden Market in St Heliers.  We were both in our first weeks in New Zealand and I was still looking for a church home.  She had to explain what it meant to be a deacon and I had to learn to follow a liturgy at St Philips.

More than inviting me to join her at her place of service/worship, we began a conversation about our faith journeys and how we are continuing to grow. We have prayed together and for each other. Most of all we have laughed a lot together. So when she told me the date of her ordination I was determined to witness it in person.

UK Sarah and American Julie at party after ordination service

I also decided to film it with my trusty Flip video camera.  I just finished editing the 17.5 minute video (that is too long for YouTube). I joined Vimeo just so I could share this with you all.  Watching the service again gave me so much joy.  It is also joy I see on Sarah’s face in the service and even more so at the end of the video when she is presiding at her first service as a priest at St Philips.

Watching her take this step also shifted something in me. We have been struggling to properly recognize a woman in our church who has been serving as a pastor without proper acknowledgement for many years–and our denomination has recognized women in ministry since 1643! UK Sarah has experienced some opposition to her call because she’s a woman. And I have had my own experiences with paternalistic reactions to my leadership in various roles in a variety of church settings. Recently I found a kindred spirit in Sue Monk Kidd and her interesting memoir The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Some healing of these old wounds has taken place and the journey continues.

After the ordination on Saturday and church services on Sunday, “UK Sarah and American Julie” took off for Tauranga for a girl’s 3-day at an eco-lodge. We had a divine time, with stops for Hobbiton, hiking, shopping, and glow worm viewing.  We we toasted our friendship with a mug of beer in the Green Dragon, laughed at the GPS directions, and laughed at the 70s decor in the eco-lodge (still recommend it).

We are laughing via Skype, until we meet again.

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