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Monday, October 25, 2010

Tasmania's Female Ministers

Last week we also visited St Marys Anglican church in Hagley. I had never known this church was there. It sits upon a slight hill with pastoral views and the township close by.
I am by up-bringing Roman Catholic so please pardon any muffs i might make in the telling.
This small church was built in the later part of the 1800s and features beautiful stained glass windows
striking tiles and decoration in the alter area and a beautiful carved stone pulpit (I'm told they are more typically built from wood in a church this size so I believe this feature alone points to the standing this church once held).

The minister alludes to the various things that "need more money" but that the needs of the parishioners are many also and it's a priority of people rather than things. The congregation is simply not large enough to keep up with the upkeep.
Reverend Marie White, along with Reverend Josephine Pyecroft minister to a broad area of Hagley, Westbury and Carrick. They as I understand are the only female ministers in Tasmania. There are some who do not agree with female ministers but I think it is a very forward and practical move by the Anglican church.
I was left with a great admiration for Marie after meeting her and felt her congregation were very lucky to have her and there appeared to be quite a lot of energy and positive pragmatism in her community programmes. The appointments have been a little too controversial for some and I think that is a great shame.

This church has spanned three centuries now and seen many changes, people famous and humble and gatherings large (especially at Christmas) and small (on frosty below zero mornings). As I stand in the cemetery amidst the markers of time and history adorned with drifts of snow drops and bluebells looking out upon the gentle hills and pastures of contented flocks, I'm left with not only peace and contentment but a feeling of calm inevitability. Whatever beliefs people hold, religion plays an important role in our communities. Will we only realise and miss them when they are gone? There is no denying that congregations are on the decline. Our communities I believe are on a decline also....into a massive population of insular individuals. Will it be just another cycle or will these times be lost forever?

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