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Sunday, April 10, 2005

I am looking for a new job. In searching the online for a pastor-like position at a culturally relevant church, I found the following job posting . . .

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"You probably connect with today’s culture if your iPod is part of your wardrobe; if your play lists include U2, Black-Eyed Peas, Moby, and Coldplay; if your library shelf contains N.T. Wright, Leonard Sweet, Bill Easum, Jim Collins, John Grisham and John Steinbeck; if your DVD collection goes beyond Disney to Cohen brothers, Oliver Stone, and Mel Gibson; and if you can successfully order at Starbucks without tripping over your tongue or holding up the line. Westwinds Community Church is seeking a subversive teacher/communicator and team player who can connect with the inquirer as well as the seasoned Christ-follower and who accurately and passionately exegetes Scripture and culture. This catalytic leader must guide the ongoing theological and cultural dialogue while exploring different approaches to ministry. Five years experience in an emergent church would be ideal as well as a master’s degree and/or seminary training."

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to which I responded with an email . . .

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i saw your job opening online and am curious about your church. I currently volunteer (preach, teach, brainstorm and perform manual labor) at an emergent church in austin, tx: Mosaic (www.mosaicaustin.org). I was involved at UBC in waco before that (www.ubcwaco.org) also preaching and teaching small group bible study. Having graduated from Truett Seminary last year, I currently work as a permanant sub at a high school here in austin, but am searching for a "real job" where I can use my gifts and pay the bills. any further info you can send me regarding your church and the specifics of the job you're looking to fill would be great.
peace,
ann pittman

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after which I received the following message . . .

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Hi Ann,
Shootin' straight from the hip to you Ann - I wish I could say we had arrived at accepting gals into a lead teaching position, but we aren't there yet! There has been progress, but because of a pretty major transition in losing our founding pastor about 9 months ago, we're taking any huge changes pretty slow right now.
It would have been interesting to see your resume etc., but at this time I'd be looking elsewhere. Sorry about that, but didn't want you to get your hopes up! I wish I could have been more positive!
Blessings on your search!
Norma Racey
Westwinds Community Church

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So you can imagine how I feel now. Emergent is the moderate/progressive interdenominational church movement that has swept across the US, Britain, Australia and beyond. It is a response to fundamentalism, and an attempt to reclaim the beautiful traditions and truth of Christianity in an artistic, thoughtful, culturally relevant dialogue. For Westwinds Community Church to call themselves “culturally relevant” is a joke. Anyone or any church who wouldn’t hire a woman because she lacks the proper anatomy (i.e. is not a man) is not living in 2005. One of my friends wrote about how sad it is that Jesus could have been so progressive towards women 2000 years ago, but we insist on living minus that mission and truth. Christians should be the most progressive, truth embodying, gift embracing people on earth - why can we not step up to that challenge?

I remember now why I never wanted to be employed by a church.

44 comments:

Michelle said...

Oh my gosh, ann! That email made me so mad, I had to read it twice because I thought I had either misread it or that it was a joke. Did you email them back telling them that they are a joke? I think you should. I mean, they aren't going to hire you anyways...losers, do they even know how much talent they are tossing away by not hiring you or any other intelligent woman. Grrr, Michelle mad.

lynnette said...

this is the most revolting thing i've heard in a long time.

please move to nashville. let's do something great here.

Adam said...

ann, so sorry about this situation.

i feel like this is a place where i think some 'emergent' churches are finding themselves (it still makes me very sad!). some of these emergent churches are coming out of fundamentalist backgrounds, and so in order to maintain unity in the church (filled with people who have tons of connections together and have been 'family' for so long) - they feel the need to move in slow steps toward making people understand there is no anatomical-reason why men and women are any different and that women are in any way not as prepared for the ministry as men.

in some ways - i can understand wanting to maintain unity...but...yah. it's a really hard thing. i want unity in our churches more than anything - but i think there are times when one needs to stand up and say "no! this is just wrong and we may be making a bold and potentially dangerous move to say this, but it is time to proclaim this - to proclaim and confess that we have been wrong and that it IS wrong to not allow women in ministry..."

i hope more and more people take this stand...

tony said...

Ann: That corny job description has been floating around the Internet for months. I'm glad you outed them as a traditional evangelical misogynistic church using 'emergent' lingo in order to lure a hip, young pastor. You've done us all a great service.

glenn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
glenn said...

just curious, but what kind of hermeneutic principle guides you in interpreting 1 timothy 3:1-7?

i'd just like to hear your thoughts . . . .

tony said...

Glenn:

The hermeneutic of common sense.

Tony

Lance said...

Glenn: Honestly, your question seems more befitting a personal e-mail than a blog comment as these topics can create heated debate in a place for which debate was not intended. And since I don't believe women should be the only ones bearing the pressure of this question, I'll offer you mine.

lance_hutchins@hotmail.com

glenn said...

i aplogize if my comment seems contentious or unfitting. i was sincere in my inquiry. i'll just bow out of this one :)

Anonymous said...

An e-mail campaign directed toward the church seems in order!

Whose up for it?

:-)

Anonymous said...

Norma's email is...

norma@westwinds.org

Dale said...

Lame. But our church isn't lame. Journey in dallas is looking for a pastor. www.journeydallas.com. Only part time though.

dave paisley said...

Sorry Ann, that's just terrible. I have a hard time identifying with the "traditional" evangelical side of things, being an Episcopalian at a church with a female rector (senior pastor). Not that there aren't issues still, but we've had thirty years of women's ordination.

God bless you as you continue your search, I'm sure there's the perfect situation out there for you somewhere.

jon myers said...

hey i wanted to add my apologies to you as well. there isn't anything that i can really add to what's already been said, except that church does not represent emergent's hopes and dreams for the people of god and the world we live in. hang in there ann and know you've got a lot of people supporting you, even ones you've never met like me.

Anonymous said...

Ann - Sharon duChemin (nee Crissman)'s husband here. Thanks for posting this. I love your honesty and while i can not speak to the hurt of trying to find a place in ministry as a woman, I can speak to the same as a divorcee. I find the tendency to preach grace but live by the iron hand of rules to be heartbreaking. Know this though, as frustrating as it is to not be taken seriously on account of your plumbing, it would be more frustrating to work there. You're better off somewhere else while these so-called Emergent folks stumble out of the their troglodite ways; likely a slow process.

God will put you in a great place where all those gifts and talents are used rather than abused and neglected.

Be blessed.

fearfullyhuman.blogs.com

Sarah Dylan Breuer said...

Truly pathetic.

I think a key question that shapes "emerging" congregations is what they're "emerging" FROM. A congregation in a tradition that's included women in key leadership (including teaching) roles for decades would be unlikely to say something like this whether it's "emerging" or not.

I really, really like being an Episcopalian.

Best of luck in your job search -- you clearly have gifts to offer that the Church needs!

Blessings,

Dylan

Pernell said...

That friggin' sucks.

the holly said...

that seriously sucks, ann. i'm sorry you received that. grrrr...

nice to know a place where you DON'T want to pastor!

be encouraged today!

peace,
holly rankin zaher

Amy said...

Just for some clarification, out of curiosity--are you saying that you don't think there are any differences between women and men beyond anatomy, or just that you don't think those differences are relevant?

jenA said...

pittsy,
I love love LOVE that strangers are hearing your heart and voice!
I am sorry about the church; they're, in my view, misguided and unfortunately representative of many churches who've put on the shell of emergent christianity but still cling to traditional views of women (which I still fail to understand given the fact that women have been primary influences over their children for thousands of years - as per the men's instructions!)
UCC churches are quite open to women in leadership; you may want to explore that option if you're not yet totally burned by the moment.

Indie said...

I found your blog from Lynnette's blog. This sort of thing is the reason I left the denomination I grew up in and am searching for something else. It really stinks.

jay v. said...

Oy Vey!

I will tell you what I tell Lynette -- give up, become a Methodist, for we need all the emerging fols we can get.

Peace.

lynnette said...

ummm...so now i did refer people to your blog. do we think that my friend jay meant to say "emerging folks" or "emerging fools"?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if we can ever know with certainty how to interpret the New Testament passages that keep women from taking roles of leadership. Whether it is a an archaic view of society or God's plan, I do not know. I do know, though, that the following verse is not restricted by cultural issues: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen... Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Eph. 4:29,31-32). I hope that instead of becoming angry you pray for this church, and be thankful that they are obeying Jesus' last words to preach the gospel, and to teach them to obey God's commands.

gavin richardson said...

on the positive, atleast they were honest. you didn't have to spend time/money/energy in going through their processes, only to find out in the end that they are not what they claim to be.

i 2nd jay's motion, come to the umc, we need some progressive thinkers. note: i think jay v. meant to say "folks" he's from tennessee yall know.

robbins said...

screw 'em all ann! just move in with me.

Michael said...

Ann, I wouldn't worry. If all of your sermons are as strong as the "Maundy service"....wow! Someone will find you soon. Great words, great mesage, very inspiring. The right church will find you.

Lance said...

Dear Anonymous @ 9:11 A.M.

Please take a moment to go read a book by Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Nahum, ...in fact, just take your pick of any prophet and read their book.

Crying out against oppression, mourning it, condemning it, calling for change... It all has a very long history in the Scriptures.

Everything has its season...

peace.

Steve said...

And they bill themselves as progressive!?! Right...

Betsy said...

Some empathy from a random stranger: Good Lord! I'm appalled. 'Subversive' indeed. Oh - and how nice that a woman gets to handle those responses. God bless you, Ann.

vince said...

Ann,
I am on staff at Westwinds and there are many of us have no issue with having a women as a lead pastor. What you don't know is Westwinds has been more of a triage center than a church in the past few months. When Westwind's founding pastor left in June of "04, he was an incredible charismatic leader that created a personality driven church. When he abruptly left, there was no infrastructure to fall back on and we were left holding the pieces. Having a woman as our Lead Pastor is just one of the important issues on a long list of problems that need to be addressed.

We are an injured church that is painfully limping along the journey. I wish we were further along in the journey than we are, but don't we all? What bums me out is that you took a private email from one of our staff, and posted it without permission on your blog site for target practice. It bums me out that you would take an honest response from an admitted unhealthy, hurting church and blast us publicly for not being far enough along. Our church is a hurting, screwed up, healing, imperfect group of people in process. I am deeply in love with these misfits because I am one. I too don't grow fast enough, I don't change quick enough, I'm not smart enough and probably not nearly emergent enough.....but thank God that we've come a long way since June. I hope you show more understanding and grace to people you may be entrusted to Shepard, than you did to us.

andrew jones said...

i dont have the money to buy an iPod. It might be a few years until i buy my first one. . . i guess that excludes me also

1 i z said...

Vince, perhaps if the advert your church had placed had been more honest about its situation then this could have been avoided.

I have sympathy for the situation you describe and I guess you guys are doing some hard thinking about what happened and how a single person's decision to leave could knock the whole church community in the way you outline (at least I bloody well hope you're thinking that one through!), but given the wording, the advert portrays the church and the job opening disingenously and I'm not at all surprised by the reaction it's provoked.

It sets yourselves up as being something you ain't (at least not yet), wasting a good woman's time and energy as a result.

Your comments suggest that you as a church community are in a period of consolidation, so I fail to see why on earth you'd be advertising for a 'suversive teacher'. And as others have said to seek someone who 'connects with today's culture' and then exclude people on the basis of genitalia just doesn't stack up.

Time for less seeking to be 'cool' and more being honest upfront maybe?

Or maybe you're after someone who will be attracted by the nice glittering words you use, but like the church have themselves not really emerged from anything in any significant way.

jenA said...

Vince,
I think Ann's intent was not to bring lashings to your community (messenger?) but to open up the floor to friends (and strangers by mere passing glance) on a subject personal to her in a journey toward leadership.
You can see that many of us support her in her work and we get upset when something upsets her. That's not to say your church's goals are without merit.
I do believe emergent and traditional thinking can and do co-exist, without being inauthentic or a shell game.
There are many, many issues the modern church is trying to come to grips with and weigh against what it sees as truth in Scripture. Many traditional churches (several here in Waco) reject or merely sample post-modernity in worship and evangelism but wholeheartedly embrace changes in leadership and teaching.
Ann's had the opportunity to experience this, and the thought of being able to finally marry those experiences into one job, only to be told that won't be the case, is seriously gut-wrenching.
please don't take our reactions to heart. I wish your church all the best in its search for solid ground.

Pernell said...

Vince,

You said, "I hope you show more understanding and grace to people you may be entrusted to Shepard, than you did to us."

When someone shepherds a group of people who are hurting, that's especially when they need to call it like it is in terms of injustice... unwillingness to allow a woman to be the lead pastor is wrong.

Clear it up. Get over it. Repent and move on. Or your church may well not get over the pain they are experiencing, and they certainly won't emerge.

By the way, "hip" and "cool" rhetoric doesn't = emerging... just so you know.

:mic said...

WOW! I applied to that same church but now wouldn't take it if it was offered. Methinks they want to be more relevant than they actually are. . .

Someday I want to get some of these potential church "superstars" together and do something extraordinary - all by a bunch of folks that didn't fit in with the mainstream (which I would now classify westwinds). The problem with emergent is that it is only defining style and not theology. . .somebody forgot to add a side order of theology!

Godspeed to you Ann. . .I've been in a rough ministerial-search-situation for quite some time and now it seems to be working out.

Blessings

Matt said...

Wow -

I saw that ad too, sometime last year while I was looking for paid pastoral work (just out of seminary myself).

I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for women to find church leadership positions. I pray the church in general can move from this second-class status thing to "all one in Christ Jesus."

My prayers are with you.

Sue said...

Vince, with all due respect, you've got a lot of nerve judging Ann and making assumptions about her ministry after you treated her so poorly. You misrepresented yourself in the advertisement and then swatted her away like a fly when you find out she didn't have the right body parts for your church.

Speaking of which -- this is the year 2005!!!! Your church is not there yet? My denomination was "there" in 1926 with the ordination of Lydia Gruchy in Saskatchewan. Get with the program man.

Ann, I pray God's blessing on your ministry.

Chad said...

Dear Ann,

I am so sorry that this has happened to you. I do think that it is sad that churches are still struggling with this issue. I am also saddened by the (well intended) comments that I have read in regards to this post.

I think it is fine for us to be hurt, angry and desire for change to happen. However, when we (emergent friends) begin spewing angry words without context or without seeking to help others see "our" side lovingly, then we are no better than those who write books about us, or publish hate blogs against us...etc...

Again, I am so sad that this has happened to you Ann. I am equally sad what has happened within the Westwinds community.

On a side note, I feel we need to loose the language of "Emerging Churches" - there is no such thing, nor should there be. There are people who are "emerging in their theologies and certainly are re-defining their ecclesiologies...but when we begin to identifying certain characteristics of any kind as norm, we have slipped into the denominationalism that most of us are unwilling to repeat.

Sarah Cooper said...

Ann! Ann! I love you! May I post a comment? Can I? Can I, can I, can I, can I? Okay, for the record, this is not anonymous, my name is Sarah Jean Cooper and I love Ann Pittman. For the record, Westwinds missed a great shepherd and teacher and friend when they dismised her vagina. I can say "vagina" here because last I checked it's okay to say what you want in a journal, even online, because it's a fucking JOURNAL, not CNN.com. For the record, Ann, FUCKIN' A, Baby, You Da Shit!

Zach said...

uhhh....correction---"You probably connect with today’s culture if your iPod is part of your wardrobe; if your play lists include U2, Black-Eyed Peas, Moby, and Coldplay; if your library shelf contains N.T. Wright, Leonard Sweet, Bill Easum, Jim Collins, John Grisham and John Steinbeck; if your DVD collection goes beyond Disney to Cohen brothers, Oliver Stone, and Mel Gibson; and if you can successfully order at Starbucks without tripping over your tongue or holding up the line. Westwinds Community Church is seeking a subversive teacher/communicator and team player who can connect with the inquirer as well as the seasoned Christ-follower and who accurately and passionately exegetes Scripture and culture. This catalytic leader must guide the ongoing theological and cultural dialogue while exploring different approaches to ministry. Five years experience in an emergent church would be ideal as well as a master’s degree and/or seminary training.....AND A PENIS!"

Anonymous said...

you guys (Ann and friends) are just as catagorical and exlusive as the church you applied to. It seems that to be in the "Emerging" circle you must have all your catagories figured out already. Small congragation? Check. Appreciation for indi rock? Check. Some name for the pastor that isn't "pastor" (like "soul connector")? Check. Woman pastors? Check. Blogs about how the church down the street is the new satan because their sign out front is cheesy? Check.
I'm sorry but this these comments haven't shown deep love for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are going through a tough time. So what that they have a cheesy pastor description, you could let them know that gently. So what that they offend you becuase they aren't at the place to hire a woman pastor. Is there a graceful way to discuss this? Probably. Is there a chance you end up disagreeing? Yes. Does this mean that that church doesn't love Jesus or the people they are working with? No! I was just reading in 1 Peter and verse 22 says "Love one another deeply from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." The attidutes I'm reading here do not seem to be loving to the brothers and sisters of a hurting church. Please ask them for forgiveness, we are a people who are slow to reconcile, but since we have been given so much we should extend that grace as far as possible.

Dan

Lance Hutchins said...

"...you could let them know that gently."

Interesting that you mention that...

But, I guess the truth of it is that we all like to be passionate about something. We all like to rail against whatever or whoever we feel has been unjust to whomever we identify with most. We feel justified when we do it, and with shocked expression we point a finger when others do it. I know I do. I certainly do it.

I have an idea. Let's all just go ahead and admit that to ourselves quietly, give up our addiction to the excitement of debate and scandal as we sit in our otherwise boring chairs, and let this comment section die. This was never intended. ...Weird...

peace...

ken said...

hey, Ann . . i'm sorry to hear about that. My staff is just the opposite. We are dying to hire a woman teacher here in Raleigh, but i have to warn you . . . we use that word "hire" very loosely. Edentured servanthood may be better. :-)
Good luck on your search!