All statistics are as I recall them, I haven’t looked any up, sorry, sloppy research, but I won’t be extrapolating any conclusions off these numbers. Just don’t go quoting them anywhere. My own numbers however are accurate, and relate to one year as a Priest.
Numbers either matter or they don’t. Church attendance down by xx% since 1950, cathedral attendance up by z% in five years, 37 weddings this year compared to 30 last year, and so on. We are expected to take our numbers seriously in the Church of England. Including the 3% or so who have asked for alternative Episcopal oversight under the current rules.
I’m a number too. I’m one of the female priests in the Church of England. And I’d like to quote a couple of my numbers at you.
People who walked out of the first service of Holy Communion I presided at (my First Presidency) – one.
People who stay in the pew when I preside at Holy Communion – three.
People to whom I do not take Holy Communion at home, because they do not accept the ministry of women – four.
Number of conversations when a funeral director phones while with the family “oh, Claire, right, can [insert name of male priest here] take a funeral on ….oh, he can’t, no no, don’t you worry about it it’s fine. Um no, really, don’t worry about it” – three
Amount of pain when I try to model the hospitality of God, and that hospitality is rejected – sorry, numbers don’t describe it.
Pain felt by someone who tries to accept the hospitality of God and then can’t? Oddly enough I do understand something of that, from attending RC Mass fairly regularly as a known Anglican in years past. It’s horrible, like watching a great family meal through a window. So I do get something of the pain of those who cannot accept the priesthood of women. But not properly. Having hospitality withheld from you is different from having it offered and being unable to accept. So I can’t quite make the final empathetic leap.
But either way, numbers don’t measure hurt and pain. And the only possible healing comes not from solving an equation, but flows from God’s love.
This comes with prayers for everyone at General Synod this July.