Headshot of Provost Jan Cope

Women’s History Month offers all of us the opportunity to remember and to give thanks for the extraordinary and ordinary women who have and continue to enrich our lives. Admittedly, we might think of storied and seminal figures like Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony or Marie Curie, but this year I invite you to consider a more personal reflection upon the women in your individual lives who nurtured, encouraged and inspired you.

Who are the women in your history who shaped and molded your story?

When I first interviewed to come to the Cathedral, I was asked to name some of my favorite theologians. In addition to a few known and notable theologians like Howard Thurman and Walter Brueggemann, I proudly named my mother, Jean Naylor. My mother had never studied theology nor set foot on a seminary campus, and yet her practical application of the tenets of our faith never failed to inspire me and to challenge me – in a good way! It is one thing to know and recite the tenets of our faith; it is quite another to live them.

By example, my mother showed me what radical hospitality and welcoming the stranger looked like when she sought and received permission for locally incarcerated men (and they were all men then) to be able to worship at our small Episcopal church in Texas. She simply invited them to sit with her wearing their orange jail uniforms. No one batted an eye.

Loving our neighbors became manifest when she offered our small chapel at no expense to couples who otherwise would have been married at City Hall due to limited resources or lack of church affiliation. She challenged me to take to heart the prayer that we show forth in our lives what we profess with our lips.

Who are the women in your life, in your family, who are a part of your history and helped to shape you into the person you are today? We all stand on the shoulders of women–extraordinary and ordinary–who paved the way for the life we have today. This month, may we take the time to remember, celebrate and give God thanks for these special women in our lives.

The Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope
Provost, Washington National Cathedral 

We want to hear about the women in your lives who have nurtured, encouraged and inspired you! Share your stories online with #WHMatWNC and don’t forget to tag @WNCathedral. We’ll be reposting stories all month long!