For She Is the Breadth of the Power of God
June 15, 2006


Saint Mary Magdalene became “The Apostle to the Apostles” when she was selected by God to witness and proclaim the resurrection of Christ.

One thousand, nine-hundred and forty-four years later ECUSA admitted women to orders of ministry and governance of the church when, at the 1976 General Convention in Philadelphia, a resolution passed declaring that no one shall be denied access to ordination as a deacon, priest or bishop on the basis of gender. Another resolution declared that no one would be barred from participating in the life and governance of the church, either because of their gender, or because of their theological beliefs concerning the ordination of women.

Today we joyfully celebrate the 30th anniversary of this remarkable inclusion of women into leadership roles in our church and open our exhibition with a photograph of a statue of a lily clutched by Mary cascading down the side of her skirt. The image, taken by a young woman who was not born in 1976, encapsulates the strength and beauty of the very Mother of God.

Exploring the breadth of the power of God in the feminine form reveals images of well known women of spiritual discernment: Mary Magdalene, Hilda of Whitby, Sojourner Truth, The Mother Mary, Teresa of Avila, The Woman at the Well, The Rev. Li Tim-Oi, Virginia Wolf, and a calligraphic rendering of the names of the women of the Bible. But women less well known are celebrated as well: little girls running in their angel costumes holding their stuffed animals, the hands of an artist’s mother who is a priest, women in regions served by Episcopal Relief and Developement.

The feminine spirit is also revealed in a mandala reminding us that God shall supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus; a shadow that mysteriously is shaped as a woman in a full skirt; patterns that remind us of how the emergence of women in the church evoked great emotion and how women’s roles slowly evolved over time; images of the sustenance of Mother Earth and the flowers she brings forth; vibrant expressions of color and light; mothers and their children; the feminine breath of God; a woman painting on a beach; the offering of women to serve; an unidentified woman looking for inner strength as we ponder her identity.

Known or unknown, the creative force here celebrates the creative eternal feminine, joyfully taking her place at the table, and in turn, offering endless gifts to the body of Christ. This celebration reminds us, as does the included calligraphy of the words of St. Paul, that “All things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.” Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Jan Neal, Curator
ECVA Program Director



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2006 The Episcopal Church and Visual Art