Many aspects of women's lives have historically been left unrecognized in the rites, rituals, and ceremonies of the Episcopal Church. In the construction of liturgical time, there are many markers unique to women which have not been included in the life of worship. Women's life cycles are marked with a variety of passages and experiences that call out for a liturgical narrative response within the church.
Because of the importance of the narrative aspect of liturgy - the ability to tell the story of a woman's life through ritual, prayer, and ceremony - the Office of Women's Ministries at the Episcopal Church Center is embarking on The Women's Liturgy Project: Markers of Our Lives.
"In order for women to move from representation to true inclusion in the church and beyond, the church must embrace pastorally, ritually, and liturgically the many passages and experiences of a woman's life," said the Rev. Margaret Rose, director of the Office of Women's Ministries. "These are liminal moments and they call out for a response within the contexts of our family, friends and neighbors of our life of faith."
The Office of Women's Ministries is working towards creating a resource to be used by women, men, parishes, dioceses, small groups, within the context of a Sunday morning service, or any other appropriate setting where the honoring of a woman's life passages and experiences beckons a liturgical response. These can include, but are not limited to, liturgies/rites pertaining to: menstruation, menopause, conception, pregnancy, any form of pregnancy loss, childbirth, forms of leave taking, and many others. Although traditional liturgy acknowledges little of these aspects of women's lives, many women have taken up the task of creating and writing such liturgies for themselves or others. The Women's Liturgy Project has begun collecting worship resources written by women for women in order to create a resource that is accessible to all. There is already a working section on the Women's Ministries website that contains worship resources that are currently available to be downloaded and used by all (for more information, check out the Worship Resources section at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/women-church).
"It is our hope to add to this online database and eventually create a publishable resource that could be a working template for any and all who want to pastorally, ritually, and liturgically embrace women's lives," said Rose.
If you have written or are interested in writing liturgies pertaining to women's lives please send them to the Office of Women's Ministries: 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY, 10017. You can also email them to Hailey Wile Allin at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, contact information and permission for your work to be published.
Hailey Wile Allin is currently interning at the Office of Women's Ministries, focusing specifically on The Women's Liturgy Project. She is a M.Div student at General Theological Seminary in New York City and is originally from the Diocese of Mississippi.