Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The churching of women

I  spent much of my time being pregnant in hospital with what is now known as pre-eclampsia. When I went into labour the dire warnings  of other people were predominant in my mind but I need not have was a quick labour and an easy delivery. I was one of those women for whom giving birth was a natural joyful occasion. Afterwards I felt lifted onto a higher plane of achievement and the glory that was  having become a mother. 
When I got home I had not taken communion for months and was eager to do so. Me and my  baby went to church and the vicar who was a lovely man came to sit with me before the service to tell me that I couldn't take communion without being churched. 
I made an appointment with him to go to church midweek for this short service. 
I can't remember any of the words...just the dawning slowly upon me that this was in fact a cleansing of my sin....that for the church giving birth was not the glorious thing that it had been for me. 
The tone was censorious, slow and deliberate. 
Having looked at the prayer book this morning I see that we almost certainly strayed into the next bit about the commination of sinners..and I am  outraged that such a term could be applied to some one who had brought a new and innocent life into the world. 
The overall impression was dark and deeply disturbing and I felt let down by the church I loved.
It was clearly news to some people in a recent discussion that women in the C of E were still being churched in the the 60s . 
It could explain why a whole generation of what became known as women's libbers were born. 
It certainly stopped me from going to church much for years after. 
Thank God times have changed  but it might explain why so many male priests were anti women. It was part of the culture. 
Hopefully now some of us have been allowed into the clergy this culture has gone. I hope for good....
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