Alison Gent: Warrior Woman in the Church and the World

By Yvonne Lesley McLean.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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For 40 years, from the age of fifty, Alison Gent made the cause of women in the church and the secular world her work. She described herself, quoting Austin Farrer, as a ‘walking sacrament’. Gent was, from her youth, a woman of faith and she expressed this faith within the life of the Anglican Church with acts of devotion such as daily attendance at the Eucharist, and sacred reading of scripture and the lives of the saints. She also was active in the world with acts of charity and support for the church’s mission. Gent, however, was not a stereotypical bearer of Christian charity. She was in court as spokesperson for young drug offenders, participated in support groups for gay and lesbian people and divorced Anglicans and helped set up women’s refuges. Gent’s very public support for secular groups such as the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom, and the International Women’s Day Marches meant that her reputation in the church as an eccentric and rebel was confirmed while her standing in the Women’s Movement was always in question because of her convictions concerning God, the church and marriage. My paper will focus on the Women’s Liberation Movement as a form of life within which Gent adapted her Christian living and learned new language games. I will use a narrative theology methodology developed from Wittgenstein and Lindbeck to interpret this part of Alison’s life and how it can inform the connection of sacred and secular in women’s affairs.

Keywords: Christian Feminism, Anglican Church, Women’s biography, Status of Women, Narrative Theology, Wittgenstein, Lindbeck

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.107-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 580.075KB).

Rev Yvonne Lesley McLean

Anglican Priest, Retired, and Student, Adelaide College of Divinity and Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

The Rev’d Y. Lesley McLean has recently retired from parish ministry as an Anglican priest. Her PhD thesis with the Adelaide College of Divinity and Flinders University in South Australia is a biographical study of Alison Gent, South Australian, Anglican and feminist activist. Lesley’s late husband was an Anglican priest. She has 3 daughters and 12 grandchildren. Lesley trained as a librarian, and then studied theology at Trinity Theological School Melbourne as an undergraduate grandmother. The role of women in the church has continued to be foremost is Lesley’s study and reading as she has explored many aspects of ministry and spiritual development. In 2009 she completed Spiritual Direction Formation with the Living Well Centre, Holy Trinity, East Melbourne.