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Unfold your wings, Bishop of Lancaster tells women in the church

13 December 2019

DIOCESE OF BLACKBURN

The Bishop of Lancaster, Dr Jill Duff, pictured after her appointment last year

The Bishop of Lancaster, Dr Jill Duff, pictured after her appointment last year

MANY women in the church are like eagles trapped in cages, who do not unfold their wings because of a desire to be liked, the Bishop of Lancaster, Dr Jill Duff, told a conference.

Addressing New Wine’s Leading Women meeting, held at St Mel­litus’s London campus last month, Dr Duff advised: “Lift off that desire to be liked, to fit in. . . Be all the colours he has made you to be. . . Some of you here have an astonishing wingspan . . . but you don’t want to cause a fuss; so you are living like an eagle with your wings folded in, being a good little girl, neat and tidy.

“No, in this moment, in this time, feel the roar of his breath over you, unfold your wings, rise on the thermals of his Spirit.”

Some women had “spiritual an­­tennae” that were “so tuned that you are almost overhearing from God”, she said. This could be “quite over­­­­­whelming. . . Often, you can be pushed to one side. We call you mad; we think you don’t fit. But, actually, we absolutely need you, be­­­cause my experience is that God has gifted this gift to the Church: people gifted to hear on fre­­­­­­­­­quencies that other people don’t normally hear.”

In history such people had been called “mystics” or “seers”, she noted. “Often, they seem to be women.”

She went on to quote from the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “We have a world full of women who are unable to exhale fully because they have for so long been conditioned to fold themselves into shapes to make themselves likeable.”

“Lift off that desire to be liked, to fit in,” Dr Duff advised. “Be all the colours He has made you to be. . . Some of you here have an astonishing wingspan . . . But you don’t want to cause a fuss, so you are living like an eagle with your wings folded in, being good little girl neat and tidy. No, in this moment, in this time, feel the roar of his breath over you, unfold your wings, rise on the thermals of his Spirit.”

The conference, attended by 130 women leaders from multiple denominations, was also addressed by the Bishop of Penrith, Dr Emma Ineson.

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