I've been silent for a week now. What to say?
Let me begin with a disclaimer. This blog was a communicator, a linker of life between Ann in Texas and my family in Missouri, Hawaii, and Pennsyvania; my friends in Tennessee, Canada, France, DC, etc., and even my friends here in Austin who wanted to see the manuscript of a sermon, or hear the story of the dead fish, or whatever. Honest to God, I thought the only people who read my blog were my grandma, Lynnette and sometimes my parents when I called and told them to read it. Heck! My two sisters didn't even read it.
However, after an inquiry with a church who billed themselves as "Emergent" and a door closed because of gender, I suddenly find myself being consoled and criticized by 37 strangers and then some.
Flattered by my sudden popularity, and confused by the reprimands of those who know nothing more about me than I'm a woman in ministry who shares her issues with her friends and family online, I am at a loss of how to respond to 4-10-05's blog.
And so, a little testimony time . . .
When I was growing up, I thought women jokes were on par with blond jokes - nobody really believed them, it was just fun for them to crack silly jokes at an easily identifiable group of people (Why did the blond get fired from the M&M factory? She threw away all the W's!). However, when I got to college, naive Ann suddenly realized that some people really did believe that women were inferior, couldn't do some things, and shouldn't be in leadership in a church. That discovery floored me, and I spent the remaining four years at William Jewell college diligently working to educate my Christian peers about what I had discerned God says about women.
After graduation, I moved to Waco to attend Seminary. Now in the South (yes Texans, you are very Southern), I faced even more discrimination. Sexism and racism was much more prominant, and it scared me. Why was I attending a school where the dean had actually said to my face "I don't have a problem with women in ministry, I just wouldn't attend a church where a woman was a pastor." And that wasn't all of it, but at the risk of ruining the academic integrity of the institution, I won't get into the rest of it. My professors encouraged me to stick to school here in the South, to walk the wilderness and be a shining light. So I did, right or wrong, I did.
And now I've graduated and am a young woman who will probably never (or at least, not for a long time) be employed by a church. My church here in Austin had a staff member leave in January, and I was hoping to apply for his position (I love Mosaic!), but it looks like they are not interested in filling that position, and are consequently, not currently hiring. Besides that, my mother worries about me paying the bills even if I were employed by a church like Mosaic where ministers raise their own support. But doesn't someone somewhere want to hire me? Well, let's take a look at the strikes against me: I'm female, I'm young, I look even younger, I'm progressive, I'm a democrat and I'm not interested in being the damn children's minister (no offense to children's ministers the world over, female or male). So why don't I choose a denomination other that Baptist or Nondenominational? Because it is very hard to get hired by another denomination. Presbyterians, Episcopalians want someone who knows intimately the beliefs and histroy of their denomination. They want people educated by their own seminaries, and though they may be open to someone with my qualifications and experiences, most would be hard pressed to hire me as their minister.
To be quite honest, Westwinds appealed to me much more after I read Vince's comment. And so, I am sorry if I have added to their pain. But perhaps it is time to suck it up buttercup and really take a look at the essentials in life and faith. And that's what gets me. Do we as churches hire ministers to minister to our already Christians and work carefully with their archaic faith, using gloves and padding to ensure we don't shatter their worldviews, or do we minister to the world? My non-Christian friends get the funniest and most embarrassing (for Christians) look on their faces when I try to explain why I haven't found a job yet and that I am most often rejected because of my gender. And we, as a Christian body, have managed to push more people away from Christ because we are caught up in gender instead of God.
It's a fine line. I remember ministering carefully and slowly to people and congregations who still embraced a 1950s folk religion faith. But I know too the excitement of living life with those who are ready to move from breastmilk to cheerios. How much more could we accomplish if we spent less time arguing over who gets to minister and actually started ministering.
I don't know. Just some thoughts. I'm ready to get on with life. I'm tired of my mother calling me at 7:30 in the morning to read me who's commented on the 4-10-05 blog now.
Peace to all, and to all a good afternoon. Sunday shall be a day of rest.