Trinity Wall Street celebrated 40 years of women's ordination in the Episcopal Church with an Evensong on Sunday November 9.
“This is a love story,” said the Rev. Anita Schell, recalling her time at Trinity in a reflection during the service. Schell was the female priest to be ordained at Trinity and the first woman to serve as a full-time member of the clergy on staff.
“There were challenges as a woman,” she said before the service. “Trinity was helpful to me with those challenges.”
Schell was one of several of the full-time female priests at Trinity attended the evensong. Each read a lesson or offered a reflection, including the Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee, Trinity’s first female vicar who recently became Chief Ecclesiastical Officer for the Church Pension Group.
While both Mallonee and Schell recalled some of the difficulties of being a woman and a clergy person, they were positive about the Episcopal Church and Trinity.
“It's the change that is constant,” said Mallonee. “New ways of doing the shepherd’s work are emerging from the grass roots and it is exciting. It is a very hopeful time.”
The Rev. Emily Wachner, Assistant Director for Liturgy, Hospitality and Pilgrimage, planned the service. Marilyn Haskel, Trinity Program Manager for Liturgical Arts & New Initiatives, chose the music, all of which was composed by women. It included contemporary composers like Ana Hernandez along with familiar hymns.
In her reflection, the Rev. Barbara Crafton reminded attendees that women had been exercising their power at Trinity for much longer than 40 years.
“The women of Trinity were very, very aware of their own power and their own sense of justice,” said Crafton.
She recalled women important in the life of Trinity, such as Lina Lowry, Pauline Dougherty, and Betty Hughes.
Crafton also considered what might be ahead for the church.
“Who knows what the future will bring?” she asked.
“In three hundred years a lot can happen and a lot has. Aren't we blessed and aren't we joyful to have seen as much of it as we have seen?”
Following the service, photos were taken of all the women present, and the female clergy shared a meal together.