Saturday, 26 June 2010

Being a Female Minister

I decided to write this blog not because I have a position but because I am constantly confronted with my gender and all that relates to it.

Last week I received a call asking me to write a blog on jewellery. I will write that blog I just wanted to take time about it. But the person requesting the log was a female minister and had been engaged with a church member over this topic. Jewellery is a heavily gender specific topic and as a female minister it provides a number of challenges.

After this I received an Facebook message requesting I take part in a survey on modesty and dress. This topic is always constantly referred to in the feminine and any mention of it in the masculine is entertained briefly. This survey was no different question after question about women's apparel and modesty of "our" women. To be honest the questionnaire was so bad that I had to abandon it and just write to the author instead my comments. But I will probably deal with this in another blog.

Then as I went into church I was presented with a copy of the youth magazine and the topic for that edition, yes you guessed it, Women in the Church. On reading this I almost laughed out loud or lol but instead I went in sat down and attempted to take part in the programme. As I sat there I was looking through my iBooks and see if there were any that I could read when I happened upon The Woman's Bible by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (since it is a free download I recommend it lol). But as I began to read the feminist theology I realised that I faced a problem as a female minister and I had better address at some point.

You see during my studies although there were a number of female theologians the maleness of the course was so evident that it lead to the occasional, confrontation is to strong a word, passionate discussion. As a result I decided to put together a book called letters to a woman in ministry (it's a work in progress watch this space). This was my way of redressing the balance and lending support to those who were undertaking what is a very challenging path not least because your gender can often make it more difficult than it need be.

After working on the book for sometime I received a disturbing link. Pastor Doug Batchelor of the Seventh-day Adventist church had preached a sermon which set the church back a million years. The aim of his sermon was to give a biblical perspective on women in ministry or not as the case may be. Let's just say it fell short of it's aim to put it politely. This began a whole flurry of discussions among male and female ministers alike. Some of the discussion surprising and some supportive. A big question arose for me as a female minister what next?

So here I sit faced with a challenge there seems to be two routes for the female minister.
1. Be a minister and ignore the gender issues and get on with your ministry.
2. Be a minister and face the challenges of gender head on

As I was reading The Woman's Bible I realised how easy it was to get so embroiled in the issue of gender that perspective is lost and ministry takes a back burner. On the other hand I know how frustrating it is to see those in power seemingly do nothing about injustice. So what do I do? Well I have never been good at seeing injustice and letting it go on the other hand shouldn't I be doing what God has asked me to do and not getting distracted. The dilemma is too much and one not faced by my male colleagues in the same way. You see my gender is a part of what makes me me. As such there will never be a day I can get away from it and have a rest. Therefore I need to think and act carefully.

I am not sure after all that has happened I have a clear answer but I do know that I have to pray for perspective. So off I go to work in ministry knowing that at each point I am confronted with the injustice of sexism and gender bias I will find it impossible to keep my mouth closed and let it go. Therefore I pray that through all this I keep perspective after all I am here to serve God not man :0)

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