‘I have no idea what the title of this piece should be’, said Rachel, when she submitted it to us. And for the longest time, neither did I. Two subjects, not connected but intricately joined, irrelevant to each other on the surface but linked since the very beginning of things.

Then I realised. The passion exhibited by Rachel’s parents and the way that they have thought, fought and sacrificed so much for what they believe is incredible. Passion like theirs is rarely seen and even more rarely celebrated. Thank you, Rachel, for this post. I wish your parents strength and hope for the future and in the fight for what they believe is right.


There’s a thread of a thought here, a connection of two things that are happening with my parents at the moment, but that connect to our world and perhaps the decisions we choose to make.

My mother is angry. Furious. The motion for women bishops has not been passed. I remember being a teenager when the Movement for Ordination of Women started, how involved mum was in it. I remember asking her if she wanted to be a vicar as she was so passionate, she didn’t, we had the debate recorded for posterity.  Now women bishops, mum is part of WATCH ,they’ve the sticker on the back of the car, On the evening of the debate mum was out for supper, they were even talking with the waitress about it, saying it would pass. Until my brother-in-law had the unenviable task of telling mum that it hadn’t passed.  As with previous debates those campaigning and praying for change won’t leave the church. They’ll fight, persuade, pray from within. Isn’t that sometimes a lesson to all of us – not to leave but to do something? How did the motion not get passed when the Bishops and clergy passed it, who are the laity of the Synod? From my limited understanding, and I’m probably going to either miss a few layers of hierarchy out, or get a little confused but it goes something like this, and please correct me if I’m wrong. Every parish has a PCC (Parochial Church Council) which involves going to some, quite dull meetings. However from this group one or two are nominated to Deanery Synod from this synod one or two are elected to  Dioscesan Synod and from this group one or two to main Synod. The laity who oppose the motion of women bishops have made sure that they are in these Synods right from the dull grass roots. They’ve become involved in their church, their organisation and made their voice heard.

A few days before this debate and vote my father was on a plane. A plane to Israel and then a journey to Palestine. Flying when the missiles were being launched. He’s in Palestine volunteering with EAPPI for three months monitoring the borders between Palestine and Israel that the Palestinians have to cross to go to work, to school as well as observing and monitoring anything else. So, at the age of 69 my father is living in another country for three months, sharing a two bedroom flat with three other volunteers from different nationalities and ages. This is something he feels so strongly about that he needs to, has to go and do something. What has been fascinating is friends’ reactions. For some who feel weary and on the treadmill of life, it’s given a glimmer that life doesn’t always stay the same – there could be travel, passion for a cause – maybe not this year, or the next but sometime, and perhaps you’re never too old. For most admiration for him. Lots of people ask how mum will be and what does she think? She loves him and knows he has to do this and has said ‘au revoir’ with love. So she’ll be changing light bulbs and missing him to vent her fury on women bishops and so much more. Others have said ‘Why?’ or ‘Why couldn’t someone else go?’

And when they say that I think of the women bishop debate, the people of Palestine,  all the individual causes we feel passionate about and this passage.


First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out –

because I was not a Jew.


Then they came for the communists

and I did not speak out –

because I was not a communist. 


Then they came for me – 

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.’


Pastor Niemoeller


Categories: Politics and Feminism
15 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Beth
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Thank you Rachel for sharing this. You’ve reminded me of the power of living your values, not just thinking and talking about them. Inspirational!

  2. Chirsty
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Oh wow, what incredibly inspirational parents you have; such passion and commitment to cause. There is so much strength shining out of both their stories. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Lee-Anne
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this on a dull Monday morning when I am feeling sorry for myself since I have had no sleep. Its lovely to read about two such inspirational people.

  4. Zan
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I love that quote. It goes right to the heart of why it’s so important to look outside your immediate life bubble and see what’s happening in the world.

    Wonderful piece Rachel – you must be so proud of your parents.

  5. Rach M
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Wow! Inspiring stuff Rachel, thanks for sharing x

  6. Yanthé
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    That quote.

    Rachel this is a brilliant piece. What wonderful and inspiring parents you have. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    This is fantastic Rachel, as others have said above, it’s inspiring to read about other people’s passions. And it brings home how important it is to stand up and fight for what you believe in, rather than hoping that someone else will fight for you.

    K x

  8. Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I love this. Living your values is so important. I’ve been feeling I need to get out and do this more and this post is further grist to the mill. I’ll maybe chat about it with my friend who does this kind of thing once he is back from the Sudan. I think sometimes it is scary to let yourself be inspired but I love that they still go out and try to be the change they want to see in the world (was that Ghandi?)

  9. Amanda M
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I believe it’s said that if you don’t vote, don’t moan – and this is the living embodiment of that with bells on. What great role models.

  10. Fran M
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Amazing people! Really inspirational piece of writing. Wish more people broke out of their everyday routines and did more for the world. Something I need to work on this year for sure. Wishing your parents all the luck in the world in their travels/efforts.

  11. Gemma R
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Truly inspiring piece (and people). I was astonished to see an acquaintance from university, a woman, an engineer, being one of these said lay members of the synod who was speaking out against women bishops on the tv and in newspapers.

  12. Posted January 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Aisling – What a great introduction & choice of title, so pleased I left it up to you.
    To everyone else – thank you for your comments, yes I am so proud of my parents & hope some of it rubs off on me. Here’s to passion & actions in our lives.

  13. Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I was thinking just yesterday about how as we get older we lose our fight. How principles start to fade into the background and we choose comfort and, at times, ignorance. How we choose to think of ourselves (and – forgivably – our families), often forgetting others who may be less fortunate than we are. Your parents give me hope that this isn’t true for everybody. That sometimes age gives you the freedom to go and do, to speak out with wisdom and confidence, and to leave behind the fickleness of youth to become someone stronger and more inspiring than ever.

    What footsteps to follow in!


  14. Cat B
    Posted January 29, 2013 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    Rachel, reading this was spooky. My mum spent 6 months in Palestine doing the exact same thing as your dad. Although retired through disability (she has Lupus) she still campaigns actively – her passion at the moment is the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. She must spend 80+ hours a week lobbying and campaigning and some if the asylum seekers she has supported, who have now been give leave to remain, call her mum.
    Growing up, she took me camping in Greenham common and on the miners strike. She worked for anti apartheid for years and worked with Chile Solidarity during the Pinochet years.

    Your post has reminded me not to take her passion for granted and to be a little less selfish when I think of all she does. It sounds awful to say but growing up I really resented the amount if time she spent championing the needs of others – she was never at home! Reading about your mum and dad and thinking what amazing people they must be has helped me see my mum more Objectively. I am so proud of her and must tell her so!
    By the way. She has had a poster with the pastor niemoeller quote in her kitchen for as long as I can remember!
    Great post :) xx

  15. Emma
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Your parents sound like inspiring, amazing people. I like that passage you included, it sums up everything perfectly.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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