Report by Richard Martin
from Signs of the Times No. 31 - Oct 2008
[North West regional conferences]

The theme of the day was 'A Woman's Place...', an exploration into the roles of women and men in society and the church.

Mary LeQuesne introduced the theme with an innovative and imaginative time of worship, which led us to the morning workshop. We were in the skilled hands of Hilary Cotton, Vice Chair of WATCH (Women And The Church), and we were exposed to the immense changes since 1950 in the lives of women in society. Independence, freedom, new opportunities, new status... but were these mirrored in the church? Is Christianity essentially patriarchal?

After a delicious lunch in the newly refurbished dining room, Hilary brought us up-to-date with the current position in the run up to Lambeth and described the lengthy legal process before women bishops will be in place. The searching questions continued ... Will Christianity survive feminism? What is women's place within the Church?

The discussion ranged far and wide and there was no ducking of the problems, so when we left, we knew only that we had shared in a time of searching, not coming away with the answers but knowing that we had shared in faith and a sense of honest unity.

We were very grateful to Hilary for bringing to us her grasp of all the issues at stake and her experience and hopeful faith.

Richard Martin is a retired physics teacher. He organizes the meetings of the North West regional group of Modern Church.