A leading woman priest who believes God should be referred to as "she" has received dozens of letters from people telling her she is "stupid" or worse.
Rev Emma Percy, chaplain of Trinity College, Oxford and a member of Women and the Church, said earlier this year she wanted to change the notion that God is "some kind of old man in the sky" by using "She" instead of the more traditional "He". She does not believe the male pronouns should be dropped when referring to God, but that there should be the option for female pronouns in the liturgy, such as "our Mother God".
She fears that the effect of using only male pronouns is to reinforce a discriminatory prejudice that men are somehow more holy than women. She admitted some people think she should "shut up" and also said there was still a sense in the Church of England that while women can now be priests and bishops, it is remains acceptable to believe they should not be.
She told the Independent's i newspaper she had received "piles" of letters: "Some said I was stupid... some were a little more offensive. I was interested that it stirred people up so much. The really good thing was that it got conversations going."
However, she said: "I have a very strong faith that has sustained me through a lot of ups and downs. I would like people to be able to find that same faith and excitement in God. That means we have to give people...the ability to make a connection between God and their own lives. For a lot of women that means they need to be able to have a sense God understands and values who they are."
Percy said: "There are ongoing conversations to make sure the Liturgical Commission are aware this is still an issue. How far up the agenda that is, I'm not sure, but we will keep saying this matters."