First of all, I am painfully shy and self conscious, not the first thing most people would notice about me but true nevertheless!
I am for women in ministry, and for women in leadership, this is a personal and a theological position. I am sick and tired of hearing arguments from scripture where verses are plucked out of context and held as if they are set in concrete... As soon as I took any real interest in biblical studies I was taught that a verse out of context is a pretext... there are many who argue the theological position better than I do ... and too many to start giving links- go search and read... and think... really allow God to challenge you especially if you feel that women should not be in leadership/ ministry roles.
So back to my journey... I became a Christian in my mid twenties, and soon became involved in the life of my local church, there was a supportive women's group who met and shared lunch and Bible study on a weekly basis. Most of these women were house wives who had chosen the role for practical reasons, most had been professional women before children, and most struggled with their new role in some ways.
The reason for the struggle was an expectation that motherhood would be completely fulfilling... and although we all loved our children for many that was not enough... it was harder for those and there were only a few of us whose role within the church family was not cake baking or flower arranging- or Sunday School. We had a few women Deacons, but not many and they were mostly older (grown up families)...
With all of this as a backdrop I became aware of a call to teach and preach, this was acceptable in women's groups, but when I answered a call to join in with an Evangelistic Mission away from home for a week, leaving Tim (who was quite happy about this) with 5 young children- the criticism started , and did not stop for years.In fact from some corners it has not stopped yet!
During the mission week I discovered a confidence in both myself and in God, I spoke for the first time at a meeting, and I was given the opportunity to be amongst those who prayed for people coming forward for healing, as they were prayed for and as some received healing so did I. I received a release from a confining theology that said I must be submissive and silent...
As I have entered into a teaching and preaching role, and as we have moved from place to place we have had to find churches that were happy to accept me as I was and that would not try to squeeze me into a confining role again, this was particularly difficult in Texas!
My conviction that I am called to Ordination has grown steadily over the last 5-6 years, I have seen the fruits of ministry that I have been involved in, I have grown in confidence in preaching and found a real gift in teaching ... all of this has been affirmed and acknowledged by Godly men and women who I trust, and who are rusted by others.
This following a call has been conducted with much prayer and heartache, mostly because for many women this is a difficult path, they know God's call but the church refuses to be budged- even in denominations that have been ordaining women for years there are pockets of resistance, a good friend of mine was presiding at the Eucharist when one female parishioner who had come forward turned away at the last moment declaring she would never receive bread and wine from J's hands! I too have been criticised, but never so publicly- one man accused me of stealing my husbands ministry, telling me I was jealous and ought to know my place.
I do not want to stand and fight a doctrinal battle, I simply want to be allowed to follow a call, and I would like to be allowed to do so ... I have questions about my suitability but these do not stem from gender issues...
So I WILL KEEP ON, and I will continue to pray for unity in a church that if it truly looks will find itself more united than divided... I am not a feminist because I believe that taken to extremes feminism is unhelpful, I do like feminist theology because it allows a different perspective., that different perspective enriches and brings new things to the table.
New things are different and I guess that is where the fear factor steps in, on this issue and on many others where people who sense a call find themselves marginalised. I leave you with this text to think on..
"In the Last Days," God says,
"I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
I'll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
and they'll prophesy.