Throughout my childhood I attended a church deep in the mountains of central West Virginia. Small and fundamental, the church membership was made up mostly of extended family members. It was rare when folks outside that small circle of relatives would attend.
During my teen years a young, married couple, who were not family, began attending. They were interesting, and seemed pretty hip to most of us kids. Soon, they began taking an active role in the church, and were especially eager to work with the youth. There was one problem: this congregation frowned upon women wearing pants in the church. And the young lady wore pants. For every service.
After several months of waiting for her to catch on and conform, church leaders finally decided to talk to her about wearing a dress. Afterwards, the couple never came back.
I think of that couple often when I ponder how we humans are so easily enslaved to our beliefs, rituals and habits. In this instance, frustration over something as petty as whether slacks or a dress should cover the legs of a woman caused harm and ill will, and forced from the church two people who may well have influenced positively the lives of several kids.
So, good luck to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the newly elected leader of The Episcopal Church. It's gonna be a tough gig, Ma'am. Stick around, though, and change the minds of a few kids. It'll be worth the effort.