Wednesday, August 30, 2006

give it all to Jesus

Last night I was in one of those meetings where you do the best you can and then have to wait on the other pieces before resolution happens. Not ugly, just transition. Nevertheless, this pastor had some anxiety after everything that could be done right now was done. So, "here I am," I say to God, "I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to do, now I need a little help. I really need this to work out like JKLMNOP. So make sure the pieces come together just like that, okay? God?"

I woke up this morning. Well, my eyes were open enough to drive SportsQueen to practise, not really awake. Anyway, it took me a little bit to recognize that there was a chorus of a song playing in my head. When I woke up enough to hear it playing in the silence, I heard "Give it all, give it all, give it all to Jesus ..."

A mom and her son sang "Give Them All to Jesus" on Sunday. She sang the verses they sang the chorus together. The son is 7 years-old. It's his voice I hear. With the reminder I need to "give it (whatever it may be) all to Jesus. What a great gentle reminder God, the faith of a child and give it to Jesus. I get it.

well, mostly, just make sure this situation turns out good, okay?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

stained glass ceiling

The New York Times has a story today (copied below) about clergywomen and the stained glass ceiling. The experiences of the women in the story rings true with the women I know. I have seen women who "moved up" but didn't get support from the heirarchy or local church. So even when the stained glass upper limit seems to be overcome it is usually short lived as well.

I think there must be a way for The Church to create a better support system so clergywomen who may "move up" can have a real chance at successful ministry. When clergywomen were just beginning to serve as pastors there were outspoken supportive clergymen who countered the negative voices. It seems those voices have become silent when it comes to real equity. Isn't this a justice issue? Don't we care about that anymore?

August 26, 2006

Clergywomen Find Hard Path to Bigger Pulpit


In the 18 years since her ordination, the Rev. Elaine Puckett has wrestled with whether she should be in the pulpit at all.

When she left divinity school, Ms. Puckett, a United Methodist, thought that some day she might lead a large congregation in her hometown, Atlanta. Instead, she has shuttled between jobs as an associate pastor on someone else’s staff or as the leader of a small congregation fighting to survive. In contrast, the men she was ordained with, for the most part, have moved on to run bigger churches.

“You begin to question your competence,” said Ms. Puckett, 58, an associate pastor at the large Embry Hills United Methodist Church in Atlanta. “When you look at the endless cycle of one appointment after another after another like these, your endurance runs low.”

The trajectory of Ms. Puckett’s career is familiar to many other women in the Protestant clergy.

Whether they come from theologically liberal denominations or conservative ones, black churches or white, women in the clergy still bump against what many call the stained-glass ceiling — longstanding limits, preferences and prejudices within their denominations that keep them from leading bigger congregations and having the opportunity to shape the faith of more people.

Women now make up 51 percent of the students in divinity school. But in the mainline Protestant churches that have been ordaining women for decades, women account for only a small percentage — about 3 percent, according to one survey by a professor at Duke University — of pastors who lead large congregations, those with average Sunday attendance over 350. In evangelical churches, most of which do not ordain women, some women opt to leave for other denominations that will accept them as ministers. Women from historically black churches who want to ascend to the pulpit often start their own congregations.

This year, women were elected to lead the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. But such success has not filtered down to the congregational level, said the Rev. Dr. Catherine Stonehouse, dean of the school of practical theology at the Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky.

It is often easier for women in the mainline churches — historic Protestant denominations like Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal and the United Church of Christ — to get elected as bishops and as other leaders than to head large congregations, Dr. Stonehouse said.

People in the pews often do not accept women in the pulpit, clergy members said. “It’s still difficult for many in this culture to see women as figures of religious authority,” said the Rev. Cynthia M. Campbell, president of McCormick Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian seminary in Chicago.

The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, pastor of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Phoenix, said that at every church where she has served, people have told her they were leaving because she is a woman.

At a large church where she was an associate pastor, a colleague told her that when she was in the pulpit, he could not focus on what she was saying because she is a woman. A man in the congregation covered his eyes whenever she preached.

Conflicting interpretations of the Bible underlie debates over women’s authority and ordination. Opponents of their ordination cite St. Paul’s words in I Timothy 2:12, in which he says, “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” But proponents point to St. Paul again in Galatians 3:28, which says, “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Ms. Escobedo-Frank is familiar with the argument.

“People have written me in almost every church I have been in except the current one, and said, ‘Timothy says women can’t preach, so how can you?’ ” she said.

In the first decade after ordination, men and women usually hold similar positions, said Jackson W. Carroll, professor emeritus of religion and society at Duke University Divinity School and author of “God’s Potters: Pastoral Leadership and The Shaping of Congregations,” published this year.

In their second decade in ordained ministry, however, 70 percent of men had moved on to medium-sized and large congregations, Mr. Carroll said, based on a 2001 survey of 870 senior and solo pastors. By comparison, only 37 percent of women led medium and large larger congregations.

In the mainline Protestant denominations, Mr. Carroll found that women made up 20 percent of lead or solo pastors. But of the pastors at the top of the pay scale, largely those who lead big congregations, only 3 percent are women. Of all conservative Protestant congregations, 1 percent are led by women, he said; of African-American churches, just 3 percent are led by women.

“It’s a combination of age-old customs and democratic myopia: that in the marketplace of ideas and values, men matter most and that by definition, women have to take a back seat,” said Dr. Alton B. Pollard III, director of black church studies and associate professor of religion and culture at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Several denominations began ordaining women in the 19th century, from the Quakers and the Christian Connection Church, a forbear of the United Church of Christ, to the churches of the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. One of the precursors to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) first ordained women in 1956, the same year that the United Methodist Church granted full clergy rights to women. The church bodies that ultimately formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America first ordained women in 1970, and the Episcopal Church officially ordained them in 1976.

When the Pentecostal movement started in 1906, it did not bar women from preaching. But over time, congregations have limited women’s leadership.

The country’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, does not encourage the ordination of women, although some individual congregations and other Baptist groups do.

Dr. Kenyn M. Cureton, vice president for convention relations at the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “The biblical passages that restrict the office of pastor to men do not negate the inherent worth and equal value of both women and men before God, but rather focus on the assignment of different roles and responsibilities to the genders.”

Individual congregations generally have a great deal of say about who will be in their pulpits. This is especially true of the larger, wealthier congregations in all denominations, even in the United Methodist Church, in which bishops appoint ministers to congregations, said Adair T. Lummis, faculty associate in research at the Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.

For the most part, congregations want a young married man with children, according to research Ms. Lummis conducted in 2001. “The whole demographic image of a pastor had not changed much since the 1950’s,” she said.

Smaller, poorer congregations will hire a woman, but often, only grudgingly, clergy members said.

“When we met with the search committee in Louisville, people on it said to me, ‘We really didn’t want a woman, because we know that we’re dying when we get a woman,’” the Rev. Lucia Oerter said of her experience at John Knox Presbyterian in Louisville three and half years ago.

In interviews with 15 women ministers, most said they had worked or were working at small congregations, often those that were dwindling. In all cases, the ministers had built up Sunday attendance. But such a track record is often not enough to win a post at a larger, more affluent congregation.

A Presbyterian minister in Northern California, who asked not to be identified because she did not want her congregation to know she was looking for a new post, said she received 65 rejections when applying for a job in the mid-1990’s. Over the last two years, as she has sought to move to a larger church, she said she has been passed over by 15 churches, even though her own church is thriving and she teaches preaching at a prestigious seminary.

“When a senior pastor is consulted about whom he would like to succeed him, there aren’t any women on those lists,” the minister said. “The good-old-boy network starts there.”

Experts on women in the clergy said that while the leaders of mainline denominations support women in the ministry, not enough is done to back their rise.

One small but important step male pastors can take, these experts said, is to get congregations to hear women preach. For example, those pastors can ask women to be guest preachers or have them fill in when they go on vacation.

“I speak differently than a man does,” Ms. Escobedo-Frank said. “To hear the fullness of God’s voice, you need to hear both men and women. People’s ears are opened more because of the surprise, and they are delighted by surprise.”

Certainly, not every minister wants to lead a large congregation. And in Protestant traditions that do not ordain women, such as evangelical megachurches, lay women who lead youth groups or women’s groups influence the faith of hundreds of congregants in a way that a woman minister in a small church cannot.

The Rev. Alise D. Barrymore, 37, grew up in the Church of God in Christ, part of the Pentecostal movement. She is co-pastor of the Emmaus Community, a non-denominational, “post-modern African-American church” which she founded with another minister in Chicago Heights, Ill.

Like many women from conservative Christian backgrounds, she had to leave her denomination, hop-scotching from one tradition to another, to enter the pulpit.

The church she grew up in has powerful women as members, she said, but it does not ordain them. Yet she had long wanted to enter pastoral ministry. Women in the black Pentecostal tradition can be itinerant evangelists, but rarely pastors.

“You can’t handle the sacraments, and it would not be rare for you to preach from the floor and not the pulpit, though that has changed a little bit in recent years,” Ms. Barrymore said. “Names and nomenclature in the black church are so important: as a woman, you teach but don’t preach. Yet the teaching sounds just like preaching.”

Ms. Puckett, the United Methodist associate pastor in Atlanta, left pastoral ministry for a time, she said, because she felt that she could not get the kind of work she wanted. She returned because she felt called to preach. But answering that call, she said, is a struggle.

“I’ve felt depressed sometimes, but the support of friends and colleagues got me through,” she said. “I’d ask them, ‘Is what I’m feeling about what is happening real or am I just crazy?’ and they would tell me I’m not crazy.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Friday, August 25, 2006

Back to School Friday Five

Back to School Friday Five

From the RevGalPalsBlog:

1. What is your earliest memory of school? That would be playing "Daktari" during inside recess. I had never seen the show but I caught on quick that everyone wanted to be the monkey.

2. Who was a favorite teacher in your early education? Mrs. Stanley, Kindergarten teacher. In first grade, I got in trouble for going back to her class every morning to say "hi."

3. What do you remember about school “back then” that is different from what you know about schools now? I hardly ever had any homework in elementary school. Both my kids have had some serious homework in elementary.

4. Did you have to memorize in school? If so, share a poem or song you learned. In another area not often seen today; I learned the spiritual "Wade in the Water" in 6th grade music. The teacher explained the Bible verse the refrain was based on and everything.

Wade in the Water
Wade in the Water, children
wade in the Wate
God's gonna trouble the Water

Who's that yonder dressed in red
Wade in the Water
Must be the Children that Moses led
And God's gonna trouble the Water


Who's that yonder dressed in white
Wade in the Water
Must be the Children of the Israelites
God's gonna trouble the Water


Who's that yonder dressed in blue
Wade in the Water
Must be Children coming through
And God's gonna trouble the Water


If you don't believe I've been redeemed
Wade in the Water
Just see the holy ghost looking for me
God's gonna trouble the Water

5. Did you ever get in trouble at school? Other than the first grade "visitation" issue, I never got caught. Were there any embarrassing moments you can share? 7th grade basketball. Dribbling down court all alone, one lone defensive player standing just across half court line - in my way. I lowered my shoulder, ran over her, earned offensive foul, immediately pulled from game, sat on bench for the remaining 3 quarters. At least, I didn't score for the other team like my friend did.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

an untold story

As I was strolling down the blog path tonight, I found a post to which I decided to respond. I have chosen to say very little regarding the deep feelings I have because of the "fall out" from church people. I have received many hurtful comments through my life before I was clergy so it has seemed that to comment would be to paint (another) target on myself. So I have chose to be silent.

But, at least for now, this space is relatively anonymous. So I'm "outing" myself -- the greatest Christian influence in my life was gay and was my dad. My dad died a significant time ago but I still am very careful about disclosing that he was gay. There is way too much judgement in this world and I already have enough of the self-righetous proclaimations from those convinced that women cannot be called by God to be preachers -- so I am silent about his homosexuality.

My dad taught me to love and value people without regard to skin color by the way he treated people with all the shades of skin tones. (see Kindness under the fruity five - ironic?) My dad gave me the bedrock knowledge that he loved me no matter what. My dad had plently of flaws and bad decisions but the foundation of love and connection to God that he built for me was priceless. And just how is it that God uses someone like that in such profoundly influential ways to create a person like me who also influences others, all toward the end of being in right relationship with God, and someone else pronounces the conclusion that the first someone is doomed to hell? Since when are the humans in charge?

The post below is the Emerging Women blog that started it for me tonight.
Hot Button

I read a response in the mail bag of People magazine recently. It was written in response to Lance Bass the singer "coming out". When I read this comment, I can't tell you the emotion that stirred within me. I wanted to post it to see what you think of it.
"Lance Bass can lead any kind of lifestyle he chooses, but he can't be a homosexual and a Christian, and he should not mislead others into believing that he is at peace with God. Homosexuality is an abomination to God. Loving and accepting people is what all of us should do, but the Bible teaches us that the lifestyle Lance has chosen is absolutely forbidden."
Wow where do I even begin. For one, I usually have steared clear of this topic. I also was raised with these sort of views. However, in my "walk" currently, I have very different ideas about this topic than I once held. I know many of the debate points of either side of this issue. I personally am "on the fence" and don't really want to throw my ideas for or against. What I do find, is I am challenging my responses to the "them" of this world. I really am starting to embrace a "we".
I have been reading
Adventures In Missing the Point by Brian D. McLaren & Tony Campolo. A book that has been, for me, a very eye opening and challenging read. In the chapter "Missing the Point: Homosexuality" pg. 182 under Gospels, Tony Campolo writes:
"Jesus undoubtedly knew about homosexuality, and we can assume that he held to the teachings of the Torah on the subject. But nowhere does he condemn gays and lesbians. In fact, Jesus never mentions homosexuality even once. Homosexuality just isn't on his Top Ten list of sins. What is number one on that list, however, is judgemental religious people who look for sin in the lives of others without dealing with the sin in their own lives (Matthew 23). Furthermore, it is uncomfortable to note that, although Jesus is silent about homosexuality, he specifically condemns the remarriage of divorced people- a practice accepted by most modern Christians. "

I think what sits with me most these days, is that I can walk in the ways of Christ, but I will never be without sin. Not that it excuses us to blatantly sin, but we are forgiven, and Jesus Loves all people equally. We look to the "others" like the homosexual community and demand things that "we" ourselves fight, the ongoing battle with our sinful nature (if that is the position that is held). Many in the Christian communities don't want "them" in our communities, to be our friends, or to be loved by Jesus as "we" are. We focus on (our perception of) their sin, instead of extending the unjudgemental Love of Jesus. "We" have a heirarchy of sins, but sin is just sin to God. We don't tell the overtly overweight, the decivers, the liars, the gossipers, the judgemental and arrogant, the pornographers, the self-righteous etc., etc., that they can't be these things and still be a Christian. (I was/am at some point in my life most of these, but hid many of them well from my church and my family. The one's that I didn't hide, I never was told I couldn't seek God or Jesus, or be a Christian until I was "sinless".)

Matthew 22 (Message Bible : The Most Important Command)
Jesus said, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence." This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

Matthew 5 (Message Bible: Love Your Enemies)
...."Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best- the sun to warm and the rain to nourish-to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the loveable, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."

I am not in any postion "to cast the first stone" nor judge a persons heart. Whether I agree or disagree with this topic, Jesus compells me to Love and show Grace as he has given those to us. I would rather leave the judging of a person's heart or where they are on their journey with Christ up to God. I do know that if my attitude is one like that of the People Magazine response, I am probably hurting not helping the message of Christ. I don't know what God will do in someone's life nor the time that it will take, but I can love, accept, and trust that God knows best; not me!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

RevGalPals Friday Five From Across the Pond

In the spirit of My Word! and Says You!, Songbird and Kathryn offer up a Brilliantly British Friday Five.

Below you will find five phrases seen or heard by Songbird on her British holiday. Use your imagination to define them. Points will be granted for humor. If you are one of our British RevGals, don't play, but please e-mail either Songbird or Kathryn to let us know of any definitions you find particularly amusing or inventive. There will be lovely prizes provided by Kathryn (Diocesan magazine, St. M's notelets, history of St. M's, parish magazine--come on Barbara Pym fans, I know you want that last one!!!), so do your best!

Adverse Camber: The part of the commercial jingle that goes over and over in your head

Butts Wynd: the uncontrollable rounds of "but mom" that are verbal windmills and remind the mother of Don Quixote

Plague Church: the Bible belt church that's left after they find out a clergywoman is coming

Free House: what "they" think the parsonage is; but the hidden costs ...

Mind the Gap: the thing between what you said in the sermon and what they heard

Monday, August 14, 2006

the book meme

Here's to the book meme!

One book that changed your life: DragonDrums by Anne McCaffrey. I discovered it as a paperback in Jr High. Peimur helped me think that I might not be the only one in the world that felt like I did.

One book that you’ve read more than once: Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep by Joyce Dunbar. One of the few children's book I really haven't minded reading over and over and over and over to my children.

One book you’d want on a desert island: Just one ?!?!?!. Well, if limited, hmmm, the 7th Harry Potter book!

One book that made you laugh: I take my religion seriously by Charles Schultz. I really love the Peanuts but this book shows Schultz's humor in a different hilarious way.

One book that made you cry: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Damn I hate death.

One book you wish you had written: A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L'Engle or The Summer of the Great-grandmother or Two-Part Invention or The Irrational Season. The family connections are so nurturing and Madeline L'Engle's faith is profound, especially in the face of reasonable doubt.

One book you wish had never been written: Well, it's not evil but how I hated reading it: Conjectures and Refutations by Karl Popper.

One book you’re currently reading: Who reads one at a time!?? The ones at home (because summer classes are finished and fall classes haven't started) Dragon's Fire by Anne & Todd McCaffrey; The Contemporaries Meet the classics on Prayer compiled by Leonard Allen; At Risk by Patricia Cornwell; and Unlucky in Law by Perri O'Shaughnessy. Next week I'll start on books for fall classes :)

One book you’ve been meaning to read: Those books for fall and Predator by Patricia Cornwell await and Harry Potter 7 when it's finally published

Saturday, August 12, 2006

fruity friday five

I suppose if I'm to have a blog I should write something so...

the RevGalPals friday five is below

Well, those of us in the United States are on high alert for air travel. Thank heaven, it appears that a huge disaster has been averted. Meanwhile, dreadful conflicts continue in the Middle East and around the world. We here at RGBP certainly hope and pray for safety, peace and fullness of life for all the peoples of the world.

Galatians 5 describes the fruit of the Spirit. With all the sadness and despair out there, we certainly need it! So, the Friday Five is simple. Pick any five of the following attributes and go wherever the Spirit leads you... your choice! Suggestions: When have you experienced this attribute? When have you struggled with it? Or who embodies it for you?

Or if you're feeling light-hearted--just assign a fruit to each one. I think Generosity is a Banana, don't you?


Kindness - There are a lot of things I learned from my dad. Not by words, by example. I learned all of the colors of our skin are gifts from God wrapping a precious child of God. I remember my dad taking me to the hospital to visit someone. In that visit, I learned compassion and kindness.

Patience - As we move closer to the first day of school, I am thankful for all the patience that inhabits those buildings of education. My children are very different and have been blessed with educators who are embodiments of patience; teaching them what they aren't likely to learn watching their mother.

Peace - I have been amazed at the places I have encountered peace - like standing in the doorway of death. Places were one expects fear or anxiety, and yet, there is that deep palpable peace that passes understanding.

Gentleness - I deeply appreciate the gentleness of the hospital staff in the children's hospital and nurses in labor and delivery who help the family deal with a baby who is not okay or even not alive.

generosity - in my first pastorate I had a couple that were very poor. they always gave 10% of their government checks to the church. their hearts were so warm and welcoming, they gave because they believed they were blessed. and they were

Now to figure out how to link on the RevGalPals ...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The RevGalPalsBlog had a Friday Five about musicals. The Bonus question was "favorite part you've ever played/sung." I started this blog just to answer that question.

I was Mark in Celebrate Life. Mark is the disciple who also plays Jesus. In a Southern Baptist church this girl got to be Mark and Jesus. Maybe it was a sign of things to come.
Site Meter