Thursday, June 16, 2005

Women in Church Office

I've been in the academic bubble (and ecumenical conversations) for so long, I had forgotten what the general deal is with the CRC (my denomination) and women, but was reminded of it again because it came up at synod this year.

I have considered myself a feminist since I was about 10 years old, and this issue, ten years ago, was important to me. I thought it was outrageous that the church would stop people from church leadership simply because of their gender, and I continue to be amazed at the slow speed with which our denomination changes. I was blessed to see the first women elders installed at our church when I was old enough to understand the significance, but seriously, what is taking so long? When many other denominations moved to allow women to have positions of leadership (including clergy) long ago, why is the CRC still dragging its feet with silly distinctions (ie women can be a synodical deputy, but not a delegate), and distrust? In my own theology and ethics it has long been a presupposition that some women are gifted with leadership, and of course should be allowed to exercise that. I guess I'm just surprised that so many do not hold that presupposition.

For a while I thought I might go into ordained ministry. I think the call to academia was pretty clear, at least for now. I guess God saved me from the hurt and headaches but also the glory of being a ground-breaker. But especially as someone who thinks about church leadership a lot, I have nothing but appreciation and respect for the women who have followed their gifts into ministry, in spite of silly obstacles. It's not an easy job for anyone, and if your authority is considered suspect, that's even tougher.

I think its time for the CRC to move ahead on this more than we already have, but it seems I am not really in touch with the denomination as a whole. I'm glad they took more small steps this week, but I don't think they went far enough. And I also think that the church body as a whole needs to change their minds and call women pastors, and leaders.


Bob K said...

I agree, Bethany. I'm really glad that I'm part of a church and a classis that celebrates the gifts of women for leadership. My understanding of the synodical decision, though, is that they acknowledged that the change would come - it's just as matter of timing.

There's something about that that is good - we need to be willing to let people come along with us in a pastoral way. But we also can't let the slowest runners set the pace. Nontheless, more than half the classes in the denomination still do not allow this to happen so there is more work to be done than those of us in some of the more progrressive congregations realize.

Still, the decision is disappointing

Ryan said...

last comment today, i promise... i am part of a church plant team here in seattle and we are headed up by a female pastor. i am part of a denomination (free methodist) that has ordained women since 1860 or so. the funny thing to me is when people say, "women pastors are fine, as long as they aren't senior pastors" or "as long as they don't preach." where do they get these kind of distinctions from the Word? bethany, when you are ready, come join us in the free methodist church. it's the place to be. :) they help to sponsor the holiness womens clergy conference, come to the water. check it out.