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Thursday, June 22, 2006
More on Women's Ordination in the Church
I am at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). This
year we are celebrating the anniversaries of the first ordinations of
women to the three offices of our church — deacon, elder and minister
of the word and sacrament. We are celebrating 100 years, 75 years and
50 years respectively.

The first woman ordained to be Minster of
Word and Sacrament (that is, a pastor in the church) spoke at our
national association presbyterian clergywomen luncheon on Monday
afternoon. It was great hearing her speak about how it was for her 50
years ago. She remembers the media event that it became. She
remembers getting tons of mail, both supportive and hatful. And now
she considers all the women ordained to ministry in the PCUSA as her
“daughters”. There are now over 4700 of us nationwide.
The
battle isn’t over, though … and she cited the precise issues raised by
lidia two posts ago. Women pastors are still not treated as equals in
ecumenical gatherings … the men won’t listen wholeheartedly. Women are
rarely asked to serve churches as senior pastors or heads of staff.
And the list goes on.
 
posted by Wendy at 12:44 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


8 Comments:


  • At 6/22/2006 07:05:00 AM, Blogger mizliz

    There's not much (other than my son) that hits much closer to home for me than this issue. I was raised Presbyterian and felt called to ministry as a middle-schooler leading a 'youth-led' Advent service in a Presbyterian pulpit. I began candidacy as a Presbyterian and finally had to struggle with what became (for me) insurmountable problems with their reality of women-in-candidacy. If I recall from those days, the first women who became ultimately ordained went to seminary not knowing, and maybe even assuming, they would not be allowed to be ordained. But God's call was real and sure. It comes up over and over: our authority and "permission" does not come from men or committees or mentors or spouses. If God is inviting us into partnership into ministry, that is permission enough. We may be blocked from some avenues of ministry (senior pastorates, equitable salaries, advancement, parsonages (manses), movement or basic respect in the process of candidacy, etc), but it is not a permission thing. It's a failure of persons or processes or institutions (which is finally a failure of persons) to live up to the values and principles they claim to cherish. And, to be fair, it is not just a men v. women occasion. Women are just as guilty as men - but the failure seems more hurtful when it's "one of our own". Having been involved personally and as a sympathetic companion for others in a number of denomination's candidacy and ministerial experiences, it is a miracle God hasn't just decided to see about how those rocks and stones might sing out and leave humans out of it. We read from I Samuel last week, the anointing of David, and while the text doesn't go into "the rest of the story", I couldn't help be imagine what dinner that night was like when David and the brothers who had be "deferred for another year" or rejected for a job they didn't know they had applied for came together with that youngest brother. Women in ministry is just a tough road (with blessings and joys to be sure). If you are strong and competent and articulate, you are "scary" or "bossy" or the classic "bitchy" (and the masculine equivalent would be "studly" not exactly the same connotation . . .). If you are not strong and competent or articulate, you are too emotional, a push-over, or sent for assertiveness training. [Not exactly germane, but I had a committee send me for assertiveness training once, and when the Dean and entire faculty of the seminary found out they were fairly terrified should I become anymore assertiveness; for this male counselor it was clear - I was a woman therefore I needed assertiveness training...] My present denomination is in the throes of discovering just how absolutely broken and abusive their candidacy process truly is. If any one has a model that is actually supportive, formative, theologically inclusive and diverse, we desperately need to see/hear it. Sorry this is so long. This is big stuff. Grace y'all. Liz

     
  • At 6/22/2006 03:05:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    thanks Liz for sharing. this has become a huge issue for me over the last few years. I'm not ordained, but I am dreaming of the possibility of seminary. I'm considering getting liscensed - but in our low church structures it isn't such a big deal. Oh, and I'm giving my first official sermon this weekend. Steps forward...

     
  • At 6/22/2006 10:14:00 PM, Blogger sylvia skinner

    Hey Julie...I will be thinkin of you this weekend. I'm sure you will do a great job. I've given a handful of "official" sermons. It's fun...I tell my husband (who is our main speaker) that we need more women's voices, but he alway just looks at me and says "when do you want to speak?" It's hard for me to do...I do an o.k. job, but sure wouldn't want to do it all the time. I'm sure you will do great!

     
  • At 6/23/2006 11:43:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    We may be blocked from some avenues of ministry.... It's a failure of persons or processes or institutions (which is finally a failure of persons) to live up to the values and principles they claim to cherish.

    Have you thought about pastoring in a more egalitarian denomination, Liz?

    It's what I would do in that situation. Granted, I'm not the most patient person especially when it's something of which I have a strong opinion . ;)

     
  • At 6/23/2006 11:43:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    Good luck, Julie. Are you planning to blog about it?

     
  • At 6/23/2006 04:06:00 PM, Blogger Jessica

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 6/23/2006 04:07:00 PM, Blogger Jessica

    Today I took a deep breath and started going back to old emergent sites I used to visit and occasionally comment but had stopped some time ago. But then I found a surprise, the link to this site and some honest expressions from other women in ministry and leadership within the Emergent Conversation. Thank you for this. I look forward to reading and journeying more with you.

    Regarding women's ordination in the church, I still can't help but get a little excited that it's even happening even with all the obstacles and obvious double-standards along the way. This is already a far cry from what I was told most of my growing up years and even more recently: my gifting, passions and talents are going to be a burden for me for the rest of my life because God does not intend for a woman to lead. Today I look forward to some day being able to go back to school and attend seminary with the expectation of ordination to follow if that is indeed God's will. I have stopped apologizing for who God made me to be. Thank you to the women that took the risks to be the first women attending seminary and seeking ordination, the church has been blessed by you and you have pioneered the important steps to gender reconciliation in the church.

     
  • At 6/29/2006 05:38:00 PM, Blogger Colleen Taylor

    I am delighted to discover this blog and anticipate good things to come from the discussion here.

    The suggestion to find a more egalitarian denomination has merit, but it's easier said than done.

    That said, if you're looking for such a denomination, check out the Free Methodists. I've just started the ordination process with the Free Methodist Church in Canada and am quite pleased with the space they afford me.

    On a slightly different note is the experience of women in the academy, which I have been living and pondering for a few years now. Here are a couple of links to such reflections on my blog:

    http://finding-a-voice.blogspot.com/2006/02/living-on-boundaries.html#comments

    http://finding-a-voice.blogspot.com/2006/02/living-on-boundaries-excerpts-from.html#comments

     

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