I AM SORRY, but there can be no apologies by women when they fill the spaces into which the Spirit calls them or the spaces for which their wit and intelligence gifts them. Women with this heritage ought to be free to fill their space boldly and unapologetically, for this is the space they have been created and called to fill.
I pray that at next year’s conference we will be smashing the patriarchy side-by-side with the men who preached to us as little girls, who taught us in seminary classrooms and who encouraged us to speak truth to power. I pray that next year, the men who say they support women in ministry will rise up in support of this gathering of women who need to see that we are not the only ones advocating for ourselves.
Everyone can play a role in motivating the women and men God has called to lead their church. When this occurs, God is glorified, the church is strengthened, ministers are empowered to do what God has sent them to do and a community’s citizens are drawn to a healthy church serious about being the healing and hopeful presence of Christ.
In 2016 the United States welcomed 85,000 refugees; so far in 2018 we have received less than 21,000. And the cap for 2019 will be the lowest cap on admissions since the program began in 1980. The secretary of state says it’s about “prioritizing the safety and well-being of the American people.” It sounds to me like the studies on generosity are still right: we’ve got too much – affluence and/or fear – to be willing to share.
Those who have voiced their worry about women wandering into leadership roles were right. The presence, voices and leadership of women will bring down walls, the false pillars of faith. These walls give the illusion of control, the illusion of comfort and even the illusion of God’s redemptive work.
Seminary students and their seminar teacher created a list of eight key characteristics of effective leadership in congregational ministry.
Across four decades, listening to students (“those who are taught”) has provoked me to action and insight I might otherwise have dodged. When students have moved classes from instruction to provocation, I’ve not only been awakened, I’ve often been reborn.
The form keeps shifting, but the outcome has remained constant for generations. Those on the bottom of the hierarchy have calamity visited upon body and spirit and household. The trouble – racism, greed, violence – crushes people.
Surely life is far more interesting and faithful if we explore how this world works and our spiritual place within it, especially the relationship between divine and human agency.