Including women in 1917 at St Chrysostom’s

St Chrysostom’s Church is rightly proud of its tradition of inclusion. We work hard to include and involve a wide variety of people at our Church. Consequently we are blessed with a wonderfully varied congregation. We’ve a broad range of ages, ethnicities, outlooks and sexualities.

Looking back in the church magazines of 100 years ago we find that steps towards inclusion were beginning. The step reported here may seem small, but the reasoning is interesting and challenging to this day. The Rector of that time, Fr C. R. Pattison Muir, writes, in 1917:

The really important part of this year’s Church Annual meeting was the adoption of a suggestion made by the Rector that, in addition to the present Sidesmen, four Sideswomen should be elected. These were not nominated because men could not be found for the position – such a reason would be an insult to women – but as a matter of principle and justice.

Women form the larger portion of every congregation, and they do the major part of parochial work: it is in ordinary fairness to them that they should be represented amongst the Church officials.

But further than this the whole position of women has so entirely changed of late, thanks to the women themselves, that any Church which says that to be a church official necessitates being a member of the masculine sex puts itself out of touch with modern thought, and exposes itself to the charge of being reactionary.

As for the reason that will be put forward by some, that women have never occupied official positions in the Church; for one thing it isn’t true, and, if it were, then so much the worse for the Church. In this matter, as in many others, the Church needs to lay aside the traditionary methods of thought and action which too long have clogged her action. Too many of us Churchpeople look back to the past with the vain hope of bringing back what was once of service, but now has passed away; rather it should be our glory to look ahead and make the fullest use of every opportunity granted for the extension of the Kingdom of God.


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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