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A Day in the Life: Women Clergy

“Called by God.” There are few vocations in life to which we say people are divinely challenged, led, or directed. But as clergy, we find ourselves in that unusual category.

We each experience it in a different way. Some as children. Some later in life. Some in very direct, obvious, in-your-face moments. Some are quiet whisperings of the Spirit that guide us gently into serving the church, synagogue, fellowship, congregation, or whatever our body of faith might be called.

However we come, serving our flock, serving our God, is what we do.

Playing Mother Nature for my church kids

So, how do our days begin? Probably much like yours. Personally, I wake up quite reluctantly. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I frequently grumble at the secrets of the universe and the darkness of the mornings and ignore my alarm clock and the activities in my home as long as I can.

While some of my more esteemed colleagues may rise early for Bible Study, prayer, journaling, or personal reflection, I’m just pleased if I can drag my lazy self to my NordicTrack. And is this a time of meaningful meditation? Oh, no. I keep myself moving by watching Netflix on my cellphone. I’m pretty much of the same mindset as Biblical scholar Martin Marty, who once said, “When it comes to meditation, I’m a good napper.”

Most pastors, at least in mainline denominations, of which I am a part, find our days to be pretty similar in one way”¦ our schedules are always changing. [Click on these links to learn more about “mainline denominations” or my denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).] Other than Sunday, there is no “typical day.” But, when it comes to weekdays, no two days are alike. While one day may start with office hours, the next day may start in a hospital room, holding the hand of someone who is about to go in for surgery.

While some larger churches have multiple staff members who are able to share the responsibilities, basic ministerial tasks remain the same for all of us:

  • to care for the elderly, sick, and dying
  • to be available to the members of the congregation in good times and bad (and this generally means 24/7/365 – “vacation” or “day off” don’t mean much in times of emergency! We once had a park ranger track us down in a lovely, little camp ground on the coast of Northern California, late, late at night. Back home we went. Kids, dog, camping gear all thrown into the car as quickly as possible.)
  • to lead any classes for the edification of the members (e.g. Bible Study, a topical study, or discussions on books of choice)
  • fundraising – remember, churches are non-profit organizations and most congregations have budgets to match that status (we’re not usually like the big churches you see on TV!)
  • volunteer recruitment and training
  • counseling (family, couples, individual, any that is needed)
  • worship service planning and leading
  • sermon preparation and delivery
  • worship center/sanctuary preparation (with our newer, more contemporary worship services, this has gotten increasingly complex and challenging, but a lot more fun, as we are able to use more fabrics, varying styles of music, videos, activities, and anything possible to aid in the spirit and joy of worship)
  • preside over funerals, weddings, baptism, communion (while Catholics recognize seven sacraments, most mainline churches only recognize two: baptism and communion; in some of those churches an ordained clergy person is required to preside over those sacraments)
  • attend/lead meetings”¦ meetings, meetings, and more meetings; after all, we are Community Organizers!

A minister may also serve as secretary (with sometimes archaic equipment; we still had stencils and a mimeograph machine at one church), custodian, plumber, gardener, traffic director, choir director, accompanist, wedding coordinator, furniture mover, etc. If there is a job which needs to be done, who ya gonna call? And, in many of these cases, there is little distinction between male and female clergy.

So, where do the gender differences come into play? I’ve had a crib in the middle of my office, toys and board books in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet, and crayons and coloring books in a desk drawer.

While I’ve frequently seen my female colleagues with their children’s paraphernalia in tow or displayed around their offices, I can’t say the same of very many of my male colleagues.

So, how is being a WOMAN minister different from being just any old minister? I mean, apart from the obvious?

Being a pastor is absolutely the best job in the world. We get paid to love and care for people. We get paid to be creative and have fun AT CHURCH, one of our most favorite places in the world. We get paid to serve God, that holy and wholly mysterious being who holds us together and walks with us and inspires us and challenges us, always, to be better and better everyday. We get PAID to do all that. And more! It is the best.

But being a GIRL pastor sometimes just really sucks.

We Just Prefer Men (And I’m not talking sexuality, here!)

The Reverend Kerry Grogan of Kailua, Hawaii tells the story of the time she was doing her “candidate sermon” for a church. Just before worship began, the woman behind her leaned forward and said, with great excitement, “Next week we’re having a man come preach!”

Some years later, when Rev. Grogan had been serving a church in Kansas, the widow of a man she had been visiting told her, “He didn’t want a woman preacher screeching at his funeral.”

One Sunday afternoon, when my husband and I were serving a church as co-pastors, I went to visit one of our members. This was a woman for whom I had a great deal of respect and love. She’d been ill and homebound for a lengthy period of time, she was greatly missed at church, and I was looking forward to seeing her. I walked into her apartment, explaining that I was there to give her communion. She looked up at me and asked, with apparent confusion and disappointment, “But when will Pastor Gary get here?”

We might as well be honest. Some people are just more comfortable having men around. Some people prefer male doctors or male dentists. Some people prefer male DJs. And some people prefer male ministers. Some for their own personal, comfort level. And some for theological reasons”¦

Common Misconceptions & Theological Complications

When married couples serve as co-pastors, it can be perplexing for a congregation. Assumptions are something with which we must frequently deal. Rev. Julie Roberts-Fronk, of Pomona, CA, was once interviewing with a church’s search committee and was told, “You can’t be a pastor; you’re a mother.” Rev. Roberts-Fronk reports, “I was too dumbfounded to be angry.”

Rev. Alicia Harker of Robinson, TX says, “Hubby and I were interviewing with a church as co-pastors and were asked if we would expect to take vacation at the same time.” This isn’t an unusual question of clergy couples. What is unusual is the response that was given when Rev. Roberts-Fronk’s search committee heard this question. “Thankfully a wise elder said, what kind of stupid question is that? Of course they’ll go on vacation together. We’re perfectly capable of filling in while they’re gone.”

“Women should keep silent.” There are passages in the Bible that cause us trouble. And there are plenty of churches that take them literally. Most of our mainline congregations realized that the scriptures were written for a peoples long, long ago, in a land far, far away. We fully understand that at the heart of the scriptures is God’s love for humankind.

However, we do have folks in our congregations who are, if not Biblical literalists, are at least traditional in practice and expectations. And we women clergy have been, um, dare I say”¦ “plagued” by them? At the very least, they have made our lives challenging. At worst, there have been times when they have torn our hearts to shreds.

At the church where my husband and I served as co-pastors I was told, shortly after our arrival, that they had thrown out all the women’s relocation papers and had only hired me because they wanted Gary.

The board chair in that congregation also told me something that most clergy women have been told at least once: “Women cannot be ministers.” If the Bible tells women to “keep silent,” then we’d better do so. Which explains why Rev. Harker’s husband was asked, “”You let your wife preach?”

Who are we? Rev. Karen Lorack Mitchell of Centennial, CO was doing pulpit supply (guest preaching) shortly after graduating from seminary. One day, when she was visiting a small congregation near St. Joseph, MO, one of the elders turned to her and asked, “What do I call you”¦ a ministress?” (Clergy women of the mainline persuasion are not fond of sexist language. If a word is good enough for a man, it’s generally good enough for a woman: actor, host, adventurer, hunter, deacon”¦ you get the point.)

I have learned, over the years, that there are many assumptions that are tied to the clergy. The most common, of course, is that clergy are male. Rev. Chantel Nelson, now of Dallas, TX, tells of the time she had just been called to serve a congregation in Central Wisconsin. A woman in town approached her and began a perfectly innocent conversation about make-up. The woman soon asked Rev. Nelson that fateful, “What do you do?” question.

Rev. Nelson writes, “I told her I was a minister. You would have thought Jesus was standing next to me. I thought she was going to faint. She then asked what “˜church’ in that area would allow me to be their minister. I explained I was the new United Church of Christ pastor in town. She then proceeded to lecture me on the Bible being very clear that no woman could instruct a man. The man is the head of the household and the church. I was deceiving the people and leading them astray. We briefly touched upon the congregation I was serving as being Open and Affirming [United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ congregations that fully welcome GLBTQ persons] when she then said to me, “˜What happened to you? Black people are not liberal, they are very conservative.’ I replied to that comment with, “˜Yes, on TV and in the media that is how AFRICAN AMERICANS are portrayed, but obviously not all of us are.’ I’m not sure what offended her more, that I was a woman minister or that I was an African American woman minister.”

Rev. Cindy Ballard tells of the time she and her husband traveled to a church, where she was slated to fill in as pulpit supply. “A gentleman came into the fellowship hall where folks gathered before the service. He offered greetings to my husband and said something like we are glad you are here for us this week. My husband said he was sorry, but he was not preaching. When asked who was, hubby said his wife was. Then when asked what he did, his reply was he was the chauffeur.”

This type of mistake is not uncommon. When my husband and I attend clergy events, people automatically welcome him as a pastor and me as the spouse. It takes clarification, every time, to let them know that we are both ordained clergy and we are both the spouse!

Of course, the misunderstandings and assumptions are not confined solely to church people. The question of “What do you do?” and the follow-up answer of, “I’m a minister” is quickly followed by looks of dismay and a cessation of surrounding conversations.

Rev. Lory Hunt of Paris, TX, a former volunteer with the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters program, tells of the time she contacted her “little sister’s” teacher. The response came back: How great it is that the girl now has a positive adult MALE role model in her life.

Are we boring? Some of us are. Some of us are a real hoot. And a half. I have one friend who is the life of every party, goes to Burning Man, wears outstanding costumes to every Renaissance Faire, and posts the best things on Facebook. I’m the opposite. I’d make a good cat – happily napping 23 out of every 24 hours.

Are we perfect? Hardly. We muddle our way through our days like everyone else. Although, some are a little more perfect than others.

One Sunday, Rev. Roberts-Fronk was telling a story from a children’s book in a sermon and “instead of the word “˜condominium’ coming out of my mouth, I said, (you guessed it) “˜condom’ and didn’t realize it until the laughter started. Then there was the time I was presiding at the service for my dad and his new wife and addressed them as Jim and Norma (her name is Marilyn, my mom’s is Norma) I watched that word leave my mouth ever so slowly, buried by head in shame in my dad’s chest which was heaving with laughter along with the roars of laughter from all their friends. Hey, it gave them something to talk and laugh about at the reception.”

Rev. Kristin Barr of College Station, TX, tells the story of a friend’s ordination. In what should have been this new pastor’s shining moment, when she wanted to say, “now go do your ministry,” Rev. Barr explains that she gave “one of the BEST ministerial gaffes I ever heard!” The words that came out of her mouth, instead, were, “Now go do your minister.”

Last September, when we were in the middle of a heat wave, I had the brilliant idea of making an icepack and sticking it in my bra in order to survive wearing my excessively hot robe during a wedding. Whenever the attention was diverted elsewhere, I’d hug my folder to my chest, thus squeezing blessed, cool relief onto my body. Little did I know that my icepack was melting and leaking through my clothing. As I exited the sanctuary, quickly, thankfully unzipping my robe, I glanced down and saw the damage. ZIP! Back up went the zipper and the robe remained on until everyone had exited the building.

Oh, yes, we fumble and we blunder. And, when we are strong, we learn from our mistakes and fare better in the future. When we are fortunate, our congregations giggle along with us. There are still churches that see our errors, chalk it up to our gender, and decree that they will never hire another woman pastor again. (I’ve always wondered what would happen if they applied the same principle to men.)

Do clergy women actually have sex? I could tell you that, no, we do not. Our children are all immaculately conceived. (My husband’s typical response to such an assertion is, “Hey, I’m good, but I’m not that good.”)

Rev. Jan Egbert Sullivan, of Plano, TX, reports that her husband was once asked, “How do you deal with the celibacy?” Rev. Sullivan says, “I will leave husband’s answer to the imagination.”

Rev. Jill Sullins of San Marcos, TX was told during her pregnancy, “I’m mad at you. I know what you did to get that way.”

I can’t speak for every clergy woman on the planet, so I suppose I can just say that we like sex as much as the next woman. But it is one of God’s best creations, after all.

All in all, we keep our senses of humor intact. We live, we learn, we love, we persist. My denomination has been ordaining women for well over 110 years.

So why, not knowing what will come on any given day, do we even bother? Because God gave to each of us the heart for this and gave us the gifts which are needed for the tasks at hand. God called us into being. God called us into ministry.

Being a WOMAN minister is just one, tiny part of who we are. At the heart of it is the fact that we are God’s hands in a hurting world. And in the midst of our days, we receive blessings beyond belief”¦ a grateful smile, a hug from a happy child, a cup of tea from a lonely parishioner, the stories of people’s lives.

Rev. Grogan, my dear friend Kerry, says it best. “Being a clergy woman is a joy, really…”

♥Tamalyn

By Tamalyn

Still seeking a world of peace & justice, this minister, mate, and mom - an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), finds great happiness and God's presence in many places: from sandy beaches to the top of a Teton, soup kitchens to used bookstores. Tamalyn embraces the philosophy that "Life is Good," but we have much work to do.

28 replies on “A Day in the Life: Women Clergy”

I really liked the article.  I have been ordained in the Christian Church (DOC) for almost 22 years.  It has been a wild, terrific ride.  However, every challenge you mentioned is spot on.  I remember taking my babies to the office with me, or hauling them on visits.  Now as they are teenagers and young adults, I can also include having to coach them in “living in a glass house” or leave them in the middle of a teenaged dramatic crisis to tend to the needs of the congregation, or (God forbit) remind them that their language and behavior reflects on their mother’s career.   I think what complicates it all is the traditional role of wife/mother must also be fulfilled; completing the grocery list, preparing the meals, ensuring everyone has what they need for school, then leaving them to their own defenses to attend an evening meeting. 

The other interesting thing I’ve tried to process over the years is my CHOICE to serve smaller congregations, or in associate positions because of the needs of my family.  It has allowed me a small modicum of time to balance the two.  In so doing, I have sacrificed (perhaps)  financial security among other things.  I guess there are “gives and takes” in everything.

Regardless, I appreciated your article and wish you the best in your ministry.

I will honestly say that at first I willed myself to read this because I’m here to learn, not just breeze through OT’s. And at first there were several things that irked me, because I’m a church-fearing non-believer (and probably because I just finished watching a trailer that tells about ‘Christians’ shipping their gay children off to ‘heal’, but that’s besides the point).
Anyway, author, you made me realize (again) that you and the majority of clergies, pastors and the like are  just another human, in the best way possible. You love, you live, you write. Thanks for the insight.

Thanks for posting. You touched my heart and make me want to cry. I’m frequently a church-fearing person. And I find it very hard not to hate people who ship their gay children off to “heal.” I’d kind of like to tar and feather them. Not quite sure Jesus would approve of my sentiment, however. GLBTQ folks are most welcome in my life, in my church, and in most churches I visit. I only wish more folks knew that.

This has got to be one of my favourite articles ever. I’m an active member of the United Church and am on the committee that’s in charge of hiring a new minister! I was also on the committee beforehand that wrote our needs assessment report and as the most tech-savvy did the data crunching from our feedback form. So many of the comments were ‘Hire a man!’ when only our last TWO ministers out of about twelve in the church’s history have been women. But there seems to be this perception that ‘women leave’.

Right now our church is staggering along with a succession of guest clergy and lay worship leaders taking the reins, and I’ve got to say, our guest ministers who’ve been male don’t hold a candle to our excellent female lay leaders. One in particular, my friend Laura, is doing her M. Div. and gave what my mother called ‘the best sermon we’ve ever had’. I’m so proud of her and the crap she faces.

I hope you write some more pieces for us! Although right now I’m on a social work path, part of me is still poking at the idea of becoming a minister one day down the road.

Yikes! I know that “hire a man” story. I know one church that had what they felt was a negative experience with a woman pastor. They then decided that they would never hire another woman. Ever again. I’ve wondered if they’ll start hiring dogs when they rule out male clergy. (No, I’m never snide or sarcastic!)

May God guide your friend Laura and your congregation with grace and good humor as you venture forth. (And you, as well, as you discern your own future.)

Most of our mainline congregations realized that the scriptures were written for a peoples long, long ago, in a land far, far away. We fully understand that at the heart of the scriptures is God’s love for humankind.

OH GOD YES. I was raised Catholic, and went to Catholic schools. Even my Religious Education teacher (whose name was Ms Churchman, no I am not kidding) informed us that the Bible is made up of different “truths”, and not everything that is written down is literally true. The literalists frighten me.

There are two things that I’ve taken to heart from my Catholic upbringing 1) the Golden Rule, and 2) That we were given free will to enable us to be fully formed people who make our own decisions, with the morals we learn from religion, our parents, society, whatever. But your choices are yours.

/Yeah I think I had  fairly liberal Catholic upbringing.

Wow, where to start? Great article. I guess I’ll start with a question. How do those of you who consider yourself part of a mainline Christian denomination feel about the presence of Paul as the almost sole interpreter of Christ in the New Testament. It’s thirteen books, right? Every verse I have a problem with in the New Testament was written by Paul (or attributed to him, if there’s a difference).

That weird place where feminism and religion intersect is near and dear to me. I admire and slightly envy a woman who can be a minister in a Protestant church, mostly because I grew up in a church where such a thing was considered wrong – very wrong. Fundamentalists (literalists) have to think that, because even if you discount all the rules in the Old Testament, you still have to follow Paul since he was the one who said it’s OK to not follow the Old Testament rules to begin with.

My own journey took me from fundamentalist Baptist missionary-in-training to total crisis of faith to atheist to agnostic to agnostic theist to non-Pauline Christian. I love the idea of serving in a ministerial position even if my faith no longer allows that. Missionary was the only allowed ministerial position I knew of growing up, and even then only with a husband to lead.  I miss the comfort of that faith, though, if not the dogma, and it gets me emotional to read about how your day goes. What a wonderful way to live.

Thank you for this article. It is proof that fundamentalists may have the media’s attention, but they don’t control the content of an individual’s faith; they don’t control Christianity at large; they don’t have ownership on the message of Christ, nor can they warp it to their own selfish desires without a few standing tall and saying that to be Christ-like is to serve. Your gender is irrelevant to Christ.

 

Oh, my goodness. I wish we could go to lunch!

How frequently I’ve said that I was going to have a serious talk with Paul when I got to heaven! But… I’m re-learning Paul. Or, at least, learning a new respect for him. You got it right when you said the writings “attributed to him”, because he certainly didn’t write all of those letters.

If you’re interested, see if you can get your hands on some books by Marcus Borg or John Dominic Crossan. They are absolutely brilliant. (Fun to watch and listen to, as well, if you can ever get to one of their seminars. Or, you can get their Living the Questions videos. So, so good.) But, one book they did together is The First Paul.

And, we always have to remember that women’s roles were SO different back then. As much as I hate the things they said to the women, I have to concede that, for those times, it might have made sense to them. Still stinky and unfair, but reasonable in their heads.

Oh, and check out John Shelby Spong’s Jesus for the Non-Religious. Wonderfully mind boggling.

May you be greatly blessed on your journey.

Great points. Can I add something to your thoughts from a very conservative evangelical perspective?

It’s worth noting the Paul actually preached greater freedom and worth for women than the culture around him advocated. He was sort of a proto-feminist, actually, if we put him in his context! In fact, I would go so far as to say that Paul did just as much for women as Jesus did! That’s not an opinion you hear often outside of seminaries, but that’s because most people don’t possess the academic background and training to interpret passages in their context. That’s a confusing statement, I know, so I’m going to show you an example.

Let’s take a very common, seemingly anti-woman verse: “Women remain silent in church.” Now, contrary to popular opinion, this verse didn’t literally mean women should remain quiet in church. First of all, in that same book (Corinthians), Paul encourages women to prophesy in the church! He told them to speak!

Second of all, interpreted with research, a knowledge of the original textual languages, and a placement of that verse in its context, the passage actually seems to suggest that the women (who were very, very young wives because men used to take wives very young to teach them) were literally talking very loudly and disrupting the services. In that case, it would be very natural for Paul, who is writing to a specific church, remember, to say, “Ladies, you need to hush up because you are making it impossible for other churchgoers in Corinth to pay attention to the service.”

Let me paint the picture of this scenario for you: a young girl (also a wife, recall) suddenly gets a question about something mentioned in the service and, instead of waiting until after the service, she hollers at her husband from across the room (men and women sat in separate sections). There are also some indications that these young girls were also pretty darn chatty and too young to have a notion of the social graces. SO! You can just imagine a room full of young girls talking and how that would echo and be disruptive in a place with stone walls, eh?

But you don’t hear this sort of information in your average evangelical church service, especially in the US, because most pastors have interpersonal and organizational training rather than intense theological training. The interpersonal training is critical, absolutely, but we shouldn’t be surprised when they read a verse like “Women remain silent in the church” and fail to teach on it properly.

Look, I’m a loud and obnoxious feminist, but I’m also an extremely conservative evangelical. Don’t believe anyone who tells you these two positions aren’t compatible.

I, too, am a conservative evangelical feminist clergywoman.  Very well said, Michelle.  Most folks (conservative and liberal) misinterpret Paul.  I consider him one of the BEST liberators of women.  I love Paul and his writings.  Most of his “women keep silent” passages were directed to women who happened to be unruly and disruptive and he told them to shut up so that worship could take place.  Just a few verses above the most famous “women keep silent” passage in I Corinthians, he talks about women prophesying.  Conservatives generally ignore the prophesy and emphasize the keep silent.  Liberals tend to emphasize the prophesying and get mad at the keep silent passage.

Keep preaching, Michelle!  :0)

 

I think I spilled ten things all over my computer desk in my haste to friend you. So rare to meet a fellow evangelical feminist and there was NO TIME TO WASTE.

You sure said it right here, though.

Conservatives generally ignore the prophesy and emphasize the keep silent.  Liberals tend to emphasize the prophesying and get mad at the keep silent passage.

That’s the weight of your ministerial experience speaking, I’m thinking!

 

Thanks, Michelle, for your response. I have heard this interpretation of Paul’s words, but it was really good to be reminded of it. My biggest beef with Paul is perhaps nothing more than a problem with the inevitable journey of a religion. He had rules. Lots and lots of rules. And the early Church loved that about those books, because it codified the whole thing. Christ himself was lacking much, if any of that, it seems to me.

Regarding “interpersonal and organizational training rather than intense theological training” – Oh man. Could I have a serious discussion about this? Yes. Yes, I could. :-) I have a friend who is a minister and we were talking about this very thing once. He recalls questioning something while in seminary (I don’t recall what, unfortunately), rediscovering the issue from a purely theological standpoint and realizing that the situation was way more complicated than he ever learned in church or Bible study, etc. He asked his professor about it, and questioned why such a thing was never brought up in the church sermons he’d experienced. His professor replied sincerely that such issues were too complicated for the average Christian, and so it was better to keep the faith simple and not discuss such things from the pulpit or even in small classes. What a disservice to the Body, in my opinion! People leave the Church, leave their faith, because of issues that aren’t discussed – because of questions that aren’t answered.  If ministers were less afraid of scaring people off and offered intense theological debate in the average church (to those who were interested), I think it would be a happier church overall. Of course, I have no way of proving that and it’s possible I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’m the only one who wanted to know more.

What a thoughtful response! I had a similar experience in my youth and early adulthood. I grew up in an ultra-ultra-ultra conservative family and religious environment that left me confused and wounded. Personally, I ended up having to “run away,” so to speak, before I ever arrived where I am now. I have several friends who are going through that experience right now (and a couple who really, really dislike Paul). I can understand that.

My husband and I just started a small, really informal (gonna drink wine and eat food!) house church group with some friends that meets a couple times a month because we’re so fed up with having pastors who cannot and will not address our questions, and because we’re too often told that all our questioning is unfitting for women (you can just imagine how that goes over).

I hope I will one day find a church and pastor (man or woman) who can work as a spiritual mentor for me without trying to “keep me in my place” as a woman. Until then? I’m a little like you! Doing my own thinking and reading and just trying to navigate my way nearer to God!

Even though I am an atheist, I was interested in reading this. One positive thing that religion offers (that maybe is a bit more lacking among atheists) is a strong sense of community– mainly emphasized by weekly church attendance. Maybe women clergy can provide a unique perspective on community ties…

The last church I went to was a Unitarian church with a female (lesbian to boot) minister. Actually, that was probably one of the sermons I most enjoyed. She wasn’t talking about going to hell, being a servant to God, talking about what’s wrong with the country, etc. She was talking about being good to your neighbor and relating to/learning from others.

We love our local Unitarian Fellowship congregation. (And the pastor is a good friend of ours. And he’s gay. Hmmm. A GLBTQ trend?!)

And you’re right… one thing I hear over and over again among church folks is the appreciation for community. Especially in times of crisis. It is, indeed, a gift.

As for the female clergy perspective on that, I have been told that we’re a little softer around the edges; a little more compassionate, by and large. (Although my hubby’s a pretty big softy, too!)

I really loved this post.  I grew up with all kinds of biases about women clergy because I was raised in a very conservative Christian family.  Once I hit college, they didn’t stick around for long and I am so thankful on many levels for that, lol.   I can’t imagine what it must be like for women clergy when there are attitudes and beliefs being spewed around like the ones I grew up with, as well as the ones mentioned in the post.

I guess what I’d really like to say is that I appreciate you, and what you do, and thank you for having the courage to be you!  The world can never have enough people who live with kindness and compassion. :D

I asked several of my women colleagues to share their experiences with me for this article. After I’d already submitted it, many of them sent wonderful comments and stories of people in their lives who have said and done things to support them in their ministries.

Times are changing. Sometimes it seems that we are surrounded by love and support. And then someone will slam a door in our faces and we feel like we’re back where we started, once again.

I think we just have to focus on the days in which we just go about doing the business of the church… sharing God’s love. And we have to follow the example of Jesus when the negative things happen – shake the dust off our feet and move on.

Now that each generation is becoming a little more open-minded and accepting of those before them, do you think this attitude towards female clergy will change, even at a very slow pace? Or is this one of those things from the Bible that will always be taken literally with no “wiggle room” in the interpretation? It seems like it’s usually older people who have more of a problem with it as well as those who are very strict and rigid about what’s written in the Bible.

(Side note: I went to a religious-based women’s college so we were required to take a theology course. I chose “Women in Christian Traditions” and not only was it one of my favorite classes but the feisty little nun that taught it was awesome!)

As I mentioned in the post above, I have received many positive comments from friends about their experiences in ministry. I only wish I’d been able to include them here.

Ministry is a joy. It truly is. And yes, the acceptance of women clergy is definitely changing with time. Some of my greatest foes, in my earliest years of ministry, were older women. And the only thing I could think was that they thought I didn’t respect them for the choices they’d made to be moms and “housewives.” Once they realized that I just wanted everybody to be able to live the life they wanted to live, our relationships generally changed for the better.

You know, I like this post. It’s worth noting that women in ministry is completely compatible with a conservative evangelical hermeneutic. It’s the weight of tradition and not biblical authority that prevents many conservative evangelical denominations/believers from admitting women into the ranks. Hell, I’m a reformed traditional evangelical (fancy way of saying Calvinist) and I have zero issues with women in ministry.

But then again, it was Calvin who introduced the idea of interpreting scripture in its cultural context, so maybe I’m not the best example, ha!

Anyhow, loved this candid portrait of your experience as a minister who also happens to be a woman and a partner to another minister. I hope to see much more from you! It’s so rare to encounter strong female voices within the Christian community who advocate for women as equals within the body of Christ.

I’m a conservative clergywoman and sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in the world.  We may be few and far between, but we’re out there.  :0)  I’m non-denominational because most Churches of Christ (which is what I grew up in) don’t allow for female clergy and the Disciples (was this for awhile and am ordained Disciples) are a bit too liberal for my liking (politics and theology).  So, being independent is where I’m at and works for me, I suppose.

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