Bishop of Albany Changes his Mind and Will Ordain Women

Episcopal News Service. April 7, 1994 [94073]

A former opponent of the ordination of women to the priesthood, Bishop David Ball of Albany, has announced that he has changed his mind and will begin ordaining women in his diocese.

In a March 22 letter to all of the congregations in his diocese, Ball said that "I have come, not without difficulty, to the position that I see no fundamental theological impediment to ordaining women as priests or bishops."

Although Ball decided three years ago to license women ordained in other dioceses, his announcement represented a clear shift of policy for the Diocese of Albany. Although he never signed its founding statement, Ball was one of six active bishops who participated in the first meeting of the Episcopal Synod of America, an organization that opposes the ordination of women in the priesthood and what is perceives as other liberal trends in the church.

In a telephone interview Ball said that his change of heart on the matter occurred after "I prayed about it, thought about it, and talked to other people about it." He said that his experience of receiving the sacrament from and worshiping with the women he had licensed "was obviously a factor" in his decision.

"I am very sensitive to the fact that ordaining women as priests and bishops and their functioning in these capacities are matters of deep and serious concern to Christians in general and to persons in our diocese in particular," Ball said in his letter. "Some in our diocese will be delighted... others will be deeply distressed. I am sure you know that it has not been an easy decision for me."

Ball said that he was not taking a head count of responses to his decision, but characterized reaction in the diocese as "more affirmative." Still, he admitted that there are people in the diocese "who are disappointed and feel I have done the wrong thing."

Ball said that he had recently approved a woman for postulancy and that "three years from now, if I am still alive and well, my intention is to ordain her to the priesthood."