Women in focus in new exhibition

'Reframing the Story' celebrates contributions of lay and ordained women to over 170 years of the diocese's history

PHOTO: Chris Shearer

By Chris Shearer

February 17 2020A new exhibition highlighting the leadership and contributions of Anglican women in Melbourne has been launched at St Paul’s Cathedral.

‘Reframing the Story’ is a photographic exhibition of lay and ordained women who have shaped the Diocese over the past 170 years of its history, and is a collaboration between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Diocesan Preventing Violence Against Women Program (PVAW).

PVAW manager Robyn Boosey said the exhibition showed that lay and ordained women have been “fundamental to the life of the Diocese and wider community” over the Church’s history in Melbourne, and that the exhibition was about celebrating and acknowledging these vital roles.

“The story of women leaders in the Church hasn’t always been told or hasn’t always been told well,” Ms Boosey said. “And yet, as you’ll see from the photos, there they were, leading in the areas that they [were] allowed to lead and using their respective gifts and making the most of the resources they had access to.

“Sadly many of these early stories have been lost or are deeply buried, and there’s a real need for us to reframe this story to recognise and celebrate these vital contributions. But also to cultivate new and emerging ones.

“Reframing the story matters. It matters because, as Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy has said: ‘these women help expand our vision of what is possible for God’s church and God’s world’.

“It matters because their visibility raises awareness of persisting inequalities and the need for change.”

Ms Boosey highlighted the current state of inequality with several statistics demonstrating the wage gap between men and women, the under-representation of women in federal parliament and upper echelons of business, and the prevalence of physical and sexual assaults experienced by Australian women.

“These inequalities run counter to our belief that all people are created equal in the image of God – equally loved, equally worthy of respect, and equally deserving of opportunities to reach their potential. And it matters because we wish to inspire the next generation of women leaders both within and outside the Church.”

Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral the Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe said the exhibition was “wonderful” and “well overdue and well worth celebrating”.

“While the need to acknowledge the women of our own day is important, it’s just as much an importance to acknowledge and accord an equal story on the page of history to women when we look back into our past and recognise how central to the life of our diocesan church women have been,” he said, and encouraged visitors to acquaint themselves with both the familiar and unfamiliar faces in the exhibition.

The exhibition will be on display in St Paul’s Cathedral’s gallery until 7 April 2020.