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Mundelein, Illinois in that area of the US Midwest often referred to as “Chicagoland” was beautifully bright and sunny the week leading up to Canadian Harvest Thanksgiving 2019. October 8-10, seventy ordained women from across the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church descended on University Saint Mary of the Lake to discuss discernment around senior leadership positions in the Church; the differences between Canadian and American contexts; and “what do you really do?”

The Reverend Canon Judy Rois, Executive Director of the Anglican Church of Canada’s adjunct organization, the Anglican Foundation gave a presentation on how the suffrage of women led to the ordination of women. Canon Rois continued on in her presentation with some speculation on what Anglicans might expect in the coming years.  Bishop Chilton Knudsen, now in ministry as the assisting bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington was consecrated in 1997 and served as diocesan bishop, the Episcopal Diocese of Maine for more than a decade. Bishop Chilton spoke of the trends she had witnessed during her ministry in The Episcopal Church, especially how systems of power change and shift, and how we are called to be lifelong learners within our ministry and within our communities.

The Reverend Canon Dr. Ellen Clark-King, former Priest Associate and Vicar, Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver and now Vice-Dean at Grace Cathedral San Francisco, led a presentation and discussion on the Theology of Leadership, delving into how the Desert Fathers and Mothers encouraged each other and raise up leaders among themselves. Canon Clark-King also reminded participants that there is no way to be all things to all people, and that knowing your faults is an integral part of leadership. Recognizing the need to ask for help is important, as is making key decisions about “whom to ask.” The balance that this kind of approach brings can make good leaders into great leaders.


Representatives of such positions as Metropolitan/Archbishop (our own Archbishop Skelton), Executive Archdeacon (the Venerable Sarah Usher, Diocese of Yukon), Canon to the Ordinary, Dean of the Cathedral (the Very Reverend Ansley Tucker, Diocese of BC), led panel discussions and breakout sessions on the skill sets required for their ministry positions, and what important lessons they had learned in pursuing and embodying their roles. They also shared the questions they consistently ask themselves as they continue their work.


Canon to the Ordinary, the Reverend Canon Janet Waggoner passed on this beautiful quote via Bishop Knudsen via Bennett Sims:

“Love your people. Say your prayers. Have fun.”

The Leading Women conference of 2019 could not have been possible without the sponsorship of the Anglican Foundation and the Anglican Initiatives Fund.


Leading Women: a brief history lesson.

Leading Women began in England in 2010, founded by several English clergy including June Osborne (then Dean of Salsbury, now Bishop of Llandaff), Lucy Winkett (then Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, now Rector of St. James Piccadilly) and Jane Shaw (then Dean of Divinity at New College, Oxford and now Principal of Harris Manchester College, Oxford).  


The first Leading Women in The Episcopal Church was held in 2016, organized by the late Stefani Schatz (Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of California), Mary Gray-Reeves (Bishop, Diocese of El Camino Real), Jane Shaw (then Dean of Religious Life, Stanford), and Helen Svoboda-Barber (then Rector of Harcourt Parish, Gambier OH) with administrative assistance from David Wantland.


This first Leading Women: Anglican Church of Canada + The Episcopal Church was organized by Helen Svoboda-Barber (Rector, St. Luke’s Durham NC), Melissa Skelton (Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon) and Rhonda Waters (Incumbent, Church of the Ascension, Ottawa) with help from administrative assistant Rachel Taylor.




The big group photo Leading Women 2019

Photo by: Rose Provenzano