1980 and Now

Post a Comment » Written on May 26th, 2013     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
then & nowAs candidate for Associate Pastor at my first church out of seminary, I stood throughout the evening question and answer hour. After about twenty minutes, the chair of the church apologized, but said he had to ask for the church’s sake (over the microphone): “What were our plans about having children?” We had rehearsed the answer, but were surprised it came in a large official group and not someone driving us to a meeting. My husband stood and we both responded, saying “We have worked long and hard to get through seminary and medical school and look forward to finally being able to work in those professions!” Amidst some light chuckling a question was yelled out from the back row; “Well, but are you ever going to have children?”

As candidate for Interim at my most recent church, a 5 or 6 year old girl stood, took the microphone and asked, “Do you like animals?”


My seminary church actually had two women interns being trained in a large multiple staff. When the Senior Pastor was leaving he asked we two interns to officiate at communion the next Sunday. The part time retired visitation pastor insisted and then did provide an explanation in the worship service on why we two, rather than a man, would serve the Lord’s Supper this one time.

As guest preacher for a congregation who had just called a new pastor, I received a Saturday call from the church chair. “She’s going to be here this Sunday after all, but wants you to still preach. Can you share officiating at Communion?” We did.


One Covenant conference superintendent had proclaimed that there would never be any women preachers in his conference.* When a friend back in seminary called to have me guest preach in the conference he warned me about possible response and reactions.  I dressed in a (literal) Brooks Brothers gray flannel suit. I ate thin soup the three days prior because of a nervous stomach. At the coffee hour afterward a church leader said, “You made sense! Thanks for being here.”

After a recent chapel here at a Covenant retirement home, a man shook my hand from his wheelchair, “I always take something away from your sermons.”


“I’m going to the Women Pastors Lunch tomorrow.” I told the church office. The only other pastor had a church three hours away. We both would drive to a halfway restaurant to share a meal, laugh and blow off steam before heading home.

There are now 51 women who are co-, solo or senior pastors serving in Covenant churches.


You know as much as I that the full acceptance of women pastors in the Evangelical Covenant Church is imperfect. Some healthy changes have jumped ahead, some have regressed and yet others are in some stage of work. (* There are now 2 women preachers in this conference.) But I invite you as members of Covenant churches to contribute to this blog. What changes have you seen in your church in the approach and acceptance of women in pastoral ministry? What improvements can we document? Please let us know and thereby encourage the body of Christ.

At my intern church the women deacons prepared Holy Communion and the men deacons served it. Theological and psychological comments and ideas were heard and discussed over several months as a change was anticipated. My favorites included “I don’t want the whole congregation looking at my backside.” and “What if I drop it?” Two brave women joined the serving ranks. One caught me after church, breaking down as she shared, “I had no idea it would be such a powerful experience between the Lord and me.”

Contributed by:
Mary Miller



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