Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Big Day

Today is a big day in the life of the church.
Yes it is a Thursday.
No it’s not some obscure holy day.
It is May 4, 2006.
What’s so special about Thursdays you ask?

Nothing in particular except on this date 50 years ago the Methodist Church (now the United Methodist Church) voted to officially ordain women. Girls like me. Some at that General Conference in Minneapolis 50 years ago acted very courageously, going against convention, tradition and culture to say that God indeed does call women to preach. Some were really upset, and they may contine to wonder why it’s taking so long for the church to get to hell in the hand-basket it wove that day….

And yet it's not like women hadn't been preaching. From the website:

Clergywomen have been part of Methodism since John Wesley licensed Sarah Crosby to preach in 1761. Although women were ordained in the Methodist tradition as early as the late 1800s, it was the May 4, 1956 General Conference vote for full clergy rights that forever changed the face of ordained clergy. The effect was that any woman in full connection and in good standing would receive an appointment. Now, about 9,500, or one in five clergy, are women and 16 women are active bishops.
I’m proud to be in good standing and expecting no change in my appointment this year. My church and I are a good “fit” and I hope to be here for a long time.

A lot can happen in 50 years, but a lot can also stay the same. Just last week I was reminded that as a girl preacher I make folks uncomfortable:
A person attending the funeral that I conducted last week came up to me afterwards and said, “That was just beautiful, thank you so much.” Then her husband chimed in and said, “Yeah, you done a good job, but I still don’t know about women pastors.” What do you say? I smiled and said, “Well God must be working on you or I wouldn’t be here!” Perhaps a smart-alecky response, but sometimes I am glad that I can think on my feet like that.
What would you have said if someone just complimented the job you did but in the same moment some else doubted you could the job you just did because you are a girl?

I’ve been very blessed. I have not been the first woman pastor in any of the churches I have served. I follow in the footsteps of women who have taught churches that clergywomen are different in the same way that male pastors are different: we each have unique God given personalities and talents that hopefully God can put to use in the places we are appointed by our bishops.

I hope that as I continue in ministry that the path I am walking will make it easier for both the women and men who come after me.

For more informaiton about clergywomen, check out this month's issue of the UM's preacher's magazine called Circuit Rider.
The Rev.


Anonymous said...

You are such a blessing to all of us in the church. Thank you for sharing your gifts.