Archive for the ‘women in ministry’ Tag

Retreated: 2 Things Learned This Week   Leave a comment

This week I retreated to a camp in Glen Rose, Texas, for three days of spiritual retreat. Going on a minimum 3 day spiritual retreat is a requirement for my ordination in the United Methodist Church. I had a lot of flexibility on how the retreat itself would go.

Inspired by the TED Talk I heard from “planet walker” John Francis, I decided to incorporate silence and not using a vehicle as part of my retreat.

Two things I learned in the process:

1. It is relatively easy to be silent when you’re by yourself, but it is a challenge to be around people without feeling pressured to say something. For most of my time away, I was on the camp by myself. I went for a long walks, I hiked through the forest, I spent time creating art and reading. I was quiet.

In the silence, I was able to rest. I was able to just be, just listen. I noticed things I might have overlooked – the smell of dew in the morning, the sound of deer as they scamper away, even the sound of a bird’s wings flapping. I ate when I was hungry and slept when I was tired.

On the few occasions I walked in to town, people were friendly and I felt compelled to speak. The person I talked to the longest, an elderly man in an antique store, seemed lonely. While a vow of silence seems like a noble idea, sometimes small talk is a compassionate act.

2. Sometimes I have to consciously choose to feel safe. One of the hardest parts about being by myself, especially as a petite female, was getting over feeling anxious about possible dangers. I had to let that fear go in order to feel at peace. The fears of unknown dangers, especially while walking alone at night in the dark, cluttered up my thoughts.

Once I made the conscious choice that I was going to feel safe, I could enjoy nature fully. I was able to pray and sing like no one could hear me. It was only then that I could fully experience God’s presence.

I think it’s worth mentioning that living in a culture that feels dangerous even if the dangers are not real makes spirituality more difficult. When I walk alone at night, a part of my brain is constantly on the lookout for possible attacks, alert for sudden movements around the corner. I cannot be the only woman who feels this way. It’s a bit heartbreaking to have to choose to feel safe. My hope is that by mentioning it we can all work together for more peace, working to create a culture of safety. (Maybe you were expecting me to learn something more profound, and I did learn other things – I spent a lot of time reading, studying, writing and creating. There will be more blog posts to come.)

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ” 2 Timothy 1:7

Project 365: Day 18   Leave a comment

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I love that we live in a diverse community and that my children have friends of a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. We have so much to learn from each other. Diversity is a beautiful thing, including gender.

Today I had more than one conversation about becoming a woman in ministry. My friend Jake sent me this article about the backlash to a UMC ordained elder who happens to be female: this article: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4617205/. Then, when I was at a birthday party today, a male pastor from another denomination was a little surprised when I mentioned that I was on the track to ordination at my church. My thoughts were later rounded out by listening to a Sheryl Sandberg TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders.html)

It’s fascinating (frightening, disappointing, shocking? I’m not sure on the right word) to consider that women religious leaders face so much more than a glass ceiling even today. I wonder in how many professions that it not only is challenging for female leadership, but even has people claim it’s biblically wrong for woman to lead. By pursuing ordination as a deacon, the ministers of service, love and justice, I may be stepping into a fight that’s bigger than I can now comprehend.

I wonder if MLK, Jr. would mind if I amended his quote to read “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and sisterhood.” It’s worth fighting for justice – something I especially realize when I consider my daughter’s future.

Where have you learned to value diversity? When have you had to stand against injustice?

“Women should be silent.” What?!?! A Bible Study on 1 Timothy 4   Leave a comment

It was bad luck for the Baptist denomination that I happened to join my high school friend for Sunday School on the day they were studying the part of Ephesians that mentions women should be submissive to their husbands.  This was my first impression of what a Baptist church was about, and that word “submissive” did not sit well with me.  I was raised with an “anything boys can do, girls can do better” mantra forever in my head, it’s possible I was born thinking that way because I don’t remember ever thinking differently.  So what was this about a woman’s place and being submissive?  WHAT?

No United Methodist Church I had ever attended preached on women being submissive to men.  I had had several female pastors in my life, my own aunt is a UMC pastor.  So what was this about a woman being submissive?  About not being able to teach or preach?  This first impression of a Baptist denomination was hard to swallow.  I wonder, what happens to our own youth when they visit their friends’ churches?

Years later, I have a different understanding of the Scripture about the roles for women.  And I relish my role as a senior high Bible study teacher.  If we can create a place where youth can safely wrestle with even the most controversial parts of Scripture, we can give them a faith foundation that won’t be rocked as they’re exposed to different theology.

We are currently studying the book of 1 Timothy in my Senior High Bible study.  Have you read through 1 Timothy lately?  I chose the book of 1 Timothy because I knew that 1 Timothy 4:12 says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”  That’s a verse young people should know, right?  However, I was tempted find another book to study once I read through the book, or at least to skip chapter 2 because of the whole “women should learn in quietness and full submission” part.  I remembered those early impressions from my own youth – would I be doing the same to the girls in my own class?  We took the whole book on anyway and I’m glad we did.  I might add, if you choose to tackle this with your group, it might not hurt to read Jeremy’s article about not getting fired first.  Make sure you have support with you when you’re delving into the controversial & know your youth.

The fun part: During the more controversial part of the Bible study, I had the boys sit in an inner circle to study the Bible with me.  The girls sat outside the circle and were able to take notes but not speak.  You should have seen the reactions – there were furious notetakers and a few angry glares from the girls during the process – and I’m pretty sure more than one boy’s chair got “accidentally” kicked from behind.   It’s a lesson we won’t soon forget.

Take a look for yourself: [download id=”4″]

Obviously, I took this on as a woman in youth ministry.  If you’re male and you try this session, I would love to hear how it goes!

Blessings,

Erin