“Lady Father” is a narrative account of my journey through the ordination process in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia of the 1980’s and the subsequent years of ordained ministry. As the first female admitted to the ordination process by the Rt. Rev. C. Charles Vaché, 7th Bishop of Southern Virginia, who was then a strong and vocal opponent of the ordination of women, I was a “reluctant pioneer.” Dubbed “the Lady Father,” I have served the church for 33 years and I am now offering my experiences and the insights I learned from them to others who feel a similar call and who may find themselves on a similar journey “against the flow.” “Lady Father” is filled with anecdotes that will ring true with many clergy, bring hope to those aspiring to ordination, and shed light on the continuing debate in the Church over who should be ordained. “The Process” described in the book is a journey most clergy have traveled, but my story is a unique blend of the obstacles, denials, and rejections I faced and overcame, along with the uplifting moments and spiritual growth that came out of the struggle. It is truthful and so, at times, it is painful; it is often light-hearted, even humorous; it is moving as it deals with real people, real events, and real emotions; and, most of all, it is mine – my story, my journey, my life.
Reviews for the Book
In her honest and touching memoir, Lady Father, Rev. Susan B. Bowman recalls difficulties and prejudices she had to overcome before being ordained. She was the first woman to become a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. Her account is an inspiration for all those persons, and especially women, who need the motivation to do something unusual but legitimate. Rev. Bowman's story begins in the 1970s. She remembers her experiences with prelates, including the bishop who gave her the chance to follow her path, and later with her parishioners, who did not always trust her. As she points out, the ordination process is now different, but the debate about whether women should be ordained as priests is still an important topic of discussion. Lady Father is a book that offers many reasons to reflect and, at the same time, it is an engaging read. As the debate on ordination is still a delicate topic, Rev. Bowman's remarks are praiseworthy both for their insight and grace. There were many ways in which she could tell her story, but she chose the gentlest. She also knows how to present her experiences without being dull. Rev. Bowman's courage and determination are evident from these pages as much as the personalities of the people she met on her journey. One thing I like is that Rev. Bowman does not focus only on unhappy events and difficulties, but she also recalls some moments of relief. In this way, the reading becomes easier and more realistic. No one's life is only black and white and, acknowledging this, Rev. Bowman gives a sincere account. I am sure that everyone can learn something valuable from Lady Father. Carol L. Topp Cpa5.0 out of 5 stars Great story of a courageous womanI read Lady Father after hearing Susan Bowman do a radio interview. I was curious to hear about her struggle to simply follow what she felt was a calling from God. Susan clearly points out that she did not have an agenda. She was no crusader for women's rights. She simply felt she could best minister to people if she were an ordained Episcopalian priest. Susan tells her story in a way that's helpful to the reader understand the complex hierarchy of the Episcopalian church of the 1980s. Although I admit I used the dictionary feature on my Kindle to understand the difference between vicar, rector and priest! I gained a new appreciation of what a minister can suffer at the hands of his or her own church. Susan writes about her struggles in such a gracious, forgiving manner. She's an example to us all of long-suffering, patience and grace. The Rev. Doug Burgoyne4.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for female clergySusan has been a dear friend for many years. She sent me a copy of her book and I could not put it down. It is beautifully written, brutally honest, reflecting her beautiful spirit, her brutal setbacks and disappointments, her courage under fire, her victories of the Spirit, her tenacious faith in Christ. As I came to the end of her remarkable story, Paul's words from prison to his friends in Philippi came insistently to mind: "In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:12-13). Medic 7545.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational!A truly inspirational story of one woman's struggle to succeed in a male dominated world. Any woman, whether in the church or in the secular world, should read Rev. Bowman's story.
About the Author: Susan Bowman
Susan Bowman was born and raised in Petersburg, Virginia, graduated from the College of William & Mary in 1969, got married and proceeded to work at everything but what she majored in – Philosophy. She worked for the City of Petersburg for almost eight years before answering a call to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church and receiving a Masters of Divinity Degree in 1984 from the University of the South’s School of Theology in Sewanee, TN.
Following her ordination, Susan served as a chaplain and then pastored three churches in Virginia and New York before semi-retiring in 2007 when she became Pastor-on-loan to a small Methodist congregation in upstate New York. She began her 3rd career – as a Freelance Writer – in 2008 and in May 2010, Susan became the Senior Editor of Our Heritage Magazine Online. For a year she wrote feature articles, recurring columns, lead stories and edited all copy. She has written numerous eBooks, articles, and website copy for clients of her internet-based Freelance Writing business, SBUnlimited.
She loves to write and was very excited at the publication of her first book in 2011, “Lady Father” – a memoir which tells the story of her difficult journey through the ordination process of the Episcopal Church in the 1980’s and her ministry as an ordained woman. It is full of pain, rejection, and discrimination but it also teems with inspiration, joy, and learnings not to mention a lot of humor along the way. It speaks to anyone who aspires to ordained ministry, seminarians, newly ordained, and even the secular worker struggling with workplace discrimination. It is filled with hope that, with courage and perseverance, we can overcome anything that is put in our way.
Her second book on Kindle is an eBook called “God is in the Journey,” a prequel to her memoir, “Lady Father.” It begins with her childhood and tells of her lifelong journey with God – how her challenges and obstacles taught her that, without God, there is no journey and no real life – only existence.
After 12 years with Jermain United Methodist Church, she is now fully retired and living in upstate New York where she works on marketing her books and volunteering for Hospice. She is passionate about God, her family, especially her grandchildren, and writing, in that order. She also loves to read other people’s books but she really prefers audiobooks these days. She loves going to the movies and just being with people.
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