I love the ‘great co/mission’ in Matthew 28. We humans are invited into a co/mission with God and we are commissioned. What an amazing gift and grace we have been given. We partner not only with God, following that model of Christ, but we are giving Holy Spirit power to do so! This is incredible.
In Acts 2 (calling back to the words of Joel 2) when Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh, we, as sons and daughters, speak the words of God (prophesy) for all humanity – and indeed all creation.
My former tribe (Evangelicals) are having a tough time right now. They are getting blasted from without over their extreme support for the current President. They are wrestling within over issues of race and domestic violence.
Then last week, one of their most visible leader-author-pastors, Beth Moore, released a sincere and devastating letter that has been sent to me numerous times by friends who thought I would be interested.
‘Women in ministry’ was my first and most consequential break with my former denomination. They voted to not ordain women but to instead consecrate them. I petitioned to have my ordination moved to a consecration since :
A) consecration is ‘biblical’ and ordination is not.
B) because I am convinced that we should be moving to greater levels of inclusion and empowerment … not regressing.
I read Beth Moore’s words with great concern. She is right and that it heartbreaking.
What makes the situation even more troubling for me is the contrast with my current ministry situation.
When I moved to Southern California for school, I attended a UMC school where my PhD Advisor and the Pastor at my church were both ordained women. I then got job at a UMC church where both my District Superintendent and my Bishop were ordained women.
Last year I joined the UMC again, this time in the Pacific NW, and again my new Bishop and my District Superintendent are ordained women. In fact, my church growth coach, my ordination mentor, my ordination coach, my area coordinator and my education point person are all ordained women.
Every other month I sit in a multiplying ministry workshop where more than half of my peers are ordained women.
I can’t stress how big of difference it makes being in a denomination where women are empowered and equal. In fact, every time I share my basic lesson-learned on this topic a very bizarre thing happens:
- People who are previously initiated let me know that my take-aways are obvious and that these ‘lessons’ should be a bare-minimum. They are right.
- People who are not in an empowering environment stare at me amazed, or get tears in their eyes, or shake their head in disbelief. Their follow-up questions are profound.
I would share some of my lessons-learned but I fear they will be distracting to my larger point.
Here is what I really want to say:
- Do not settle for anything less than an environment of total acceptance, empowerment, and full ordination. The synergy is too rich for half-measures and compromises. Ministry is so valuable and so rewarding when everyone’s gifts are recognized.
- Do not tolerate complementarian views of marriage even in the name of not being divisive. It is does not bear the fruit of unity and peace that you are hoping for. Just agree to disagree and move on – but do not abide that verbiage or behavior in your congregations or educational institutions (no matter how badly you need the money).
I say all of this as a flawed product of a patriarchal system. I fall short at nearly every turn. I am trying and I am learning.
My encouragement to you is simply this: you can’t imagine how much better it is when everyone’s full personhood is recognized and affirmed. It changes so many aspects of spirituality, community, planning and dreaming, networking, accountability, gifting, and so many other aspects of religious life and sacred practice.
It is perfect? No. It’s human. AND that is the beauty of it! It recognizes each person’s humanity and God’s divine purpose in and for that humanity.
If you haven’t read her letter, please go and do so. I just wanted to chime in that there is a different and better way. I am grateful for my sisters-in-Christ and partner-pastors who help me see a fuller picture of God and the divine work to which we have all been called.
 My favorite part of Moore’s letter is, “Many churches quick to teach submission are often slow to point out that women were also among the followers of Christ (Luke 8), that the first recorded word out of His resurrected mouth was “woman” (John 20:15) and that same woman was the first evangelist. Many churches wholly devoted to teaching the household codes are slow to also point out the numerous women with whom the Apostle Paul served and for whom he possessed obvious esteem. We are fully capable of grappling with the tension the two spectrums create and we must if we’re truly devoted to the whole counsel of God’s Word.”
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