Friday, May 14, 2010

Strong Women Part 6

by Amber

After five weeks of conversation, e-mails, and responses, my 'strong women' series is coming to a close. Today is our final day of Gender Issues in Preaching. Our task for today is to talk about the different projects we've been working on. I'll be honest, I was hoping to get a whole TON of responses from women in ministry, but the truth is: people were busy! Deb said it well in our conversation, "there's always something to do!" Sooo true! I am deeply grateful to the two women who engaged me in conversation and through writing. Deb and Kae, thanks for taking a moment out of the craziness to reflect on who you are and what ministry means to you!

After spending six weeks discussing books and sharing stories in class, I was really surprised to hear and see the amount of hurt the women and man in our class have already suffered on internship, during teaching parish work, and in their current jobs. Most of us haven't even gotten out into ministry yet and we're already harboring these feelings of unfair distinction, embarrassment, shame, and fear. Karoline told us a story one day about a woman (we'll call her Jessica) who she met at a speaking gig. Jessica is a pastor who lives in a more remote area where all her colleagues were men. Jessica mentioned to Karoline how meaningful it was to hear her voice on sermon brainwave each week because it made her feel as though she wasn't alone in her isolated context. Jessica also told Karoline a story about often at her weekly text study with only men, how they say inappropriate things toward her, but because she's afraid of losing their friendship, she has never spoken up to tell them how hurtful their comments are to her. Karoline's presence in her context gave her the motivation and support to say that next time an odd remark was said, she would speak up. I tell this story because it made me see how important it is for both women and men to have colleagues who respect and support your ministry.

Based on what Deb and Kae said, it is evident that trying to go at ministry alone is a miserable task, and will ultimately make us want to give up. Role models, mentors, spiritual directors, same-gendered colleagues, and friends, are essential if we hope to stay healthy mentally and spiritually.

Here are a few of the books we read during our six week course:
The Power to Speak: Feminism, Language, God- Rebecca S. Chopp
Birthing the Sermon: Women Preachers on the Creative Process- Jana Childers
Saved From Silence-Finding Women's Voice in Preaching- Mary Donovan Turner and Mary Lin Hudson
*A Church of Her Own-What Happens when a Woman Takes the Pulpit- Sarah Sentilles

Birthing the Sermon is a collection of sermon writing and self-care techniques by women preachers. Barbara Brown Taylor contributes, and as always, is a fantastic read. The final book, A Church of Her Own, I would highly recommended. She is one hilarious writer!

Thanks to all the members of my class who opened their hearts and minds by sharing their stories, support, silliness, and skills. Best wishes to all of you as you go into ministry growing into the person God carefully crafted you to be!


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