Archive for October, 2014

How Mujerista Theology Helped Me Find My Place

8 comments Written on October 28th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Evelmyn Ivens was born in Mexico and moved to the United States during her teenage years. She graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2013 with a MA in Theological Studies and is currently a Curriculum & Resource Development intern at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) in Chicago. Evelmyn has lived in Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL, enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She is passionate about issues of immigration, hunger, poverty, and human trafficking.

 

Early this month I went to Mexico to attend the wedding of my cousin Cynthia. She and I grew up together, we are like sisters, and it was an event that I couldn’t miss! The last time I was in Mexico prior to this, was in December 2012, so as you can imagine I was very excited to not only attend the wedding, see family, but most of all being able to give my mother a hug. Being back in Mexico means going back to my mexicanidad and everything that it entails (loosely translated as the meaning of being Mexican: culture, religion, tradition, history, family, etc.). But once I come back to the U.S., I go back to the ongoing tension about my own identity. So last year when I was working on my thesis for my seminary degree I went through a very personal process of discovery on how I want to be identified on this side of the border. In Mexico, I’m Mexican, but here it’s a different story.

When I first arrived in 1997 I used to say, “I am Mexican”, I was new to this country and that was the experience I had. Then as I was learning about U.S. culture and terminology when it comes to race and ethnicity (in my case being Hispanic and/or Latino), I decided to identify as Hispanic and for a while that was the term I preferred. However, lately, I have been using Latina. As I reflect on this, I can see how my personal preferences changed, first as a new immigrant, then as I was trying to assimilate and using the term used in the Census, which is Hispanic. However, now as I am trying to understand and define my own identity. As someone of the 1.5 generation, I’m coming to the realization that I’m still Mexican with my language, culture, and Roman Catholic influence. But at the same time I am American, not only because I hold a U.S. passport, but also because I have been educated in this country and understand its social and political dynamics. Also I have been influenced by American Protestantism and am a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church so the term Latina embraces all of that. Continue Reading »

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When Women Preach

8 comments Written on October 21st, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Corrie Gustafson is an ordained Covenant pastor and the Pacific Southwest liaison for Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women. She currently serves as the K-5 chaplain at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. She blogs regularly at http://pastorwithapurse.com

My friend John (not his real name) is the lead pastor of a small church. One day, as we talked ministry over coffee, John said, “Women aren’t gifted preachers.” His manner was as startling to me as his message. He spoke casually and with assurance, like this was an indisputable fact. I asked John how many women he’d heard preach in his life. He said three. One was during summer camp, the other two during chapel services at Bible college.

In 2011, a Covenant church hired me as their interim associate pastor. Preaching and teaching were part of the job description. A married couple in the church believed so strongly that women should not preach, that they left the church shortly after I was hired. They’d never heard my testimony, heard me preach nor seen any of my gifts in action. All they needed to know was that the new pastor was a woman.

Many Christians form negative conclusions about women preaching with a simple reading of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Sincere, devoted followers of Jesus, some of them my family and friends, believe that women who preach are sinning. But for those of us who’ve been called to ministry, and for the men that advocate for us, it’s not that easy. We believe these seemingly prohibitive passages – like all scripture – must be examined, interpreted and applied under the light of the full gospel. We believe these verses must be reconciled with passages like Galatians 3 and Ephesians 2:14 and 4:16.

I think this debate often comes down to a matter of authority. I can’t speak for all women, but I certainly didn’t go to seminary, become a pastor or get ordained to get attention and status. Not a step of my spiritual journey has been motivated by the desire to have spiritual authority over others. I wanted to serve God, the church and the world in love. More than anything, I minister out of obedience to God. Continue Reading »

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“Appropriate” Reality

6 comments Written on October 15th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Rev. Rebecca Poor (Becky) is ordained to Word and Sacrament, has an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary, and is the Senior Pastor at Saranac Community Church, a small rural town in western Michigan. Becky is the Great Lakes Conference Liaison for Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW) and has a passion for sharing Christ’s love and hope with our hurting world!

When I graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in May of 2011 the keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Isolde Anderson, reflected upon her graduation from NPTS in the 1980’s. At that time there were only a few female graduates, and they were worried that a motion might be passed in the ECC to rescind the ordination of women. Rev. Dr. Anderson expressed how difficult it was to receive an initial call into pastoral ministry because very few churches were willing to consider a female candidate, and those who were open to this had very limited resources. Rev. Anderson’s first church was so small (only 25 people) that they couldn’t afford to fly her out for an interview.

The Covenant Church has come a long way in 30 years! The Covenant has made a strong commitment to affirming and supporting God’s call to women in ministry. In our class of 2011 half of the North Park Theological Seminary graduates were women! It’s exciting to see an increasing number of women entering seminary, pastoring churches, and serving in leadership positions in the denomination as well! However, we still have a way to go before there is a more balanced representation of women in ministry in the ECC; particularly in senior pastoral roles in larger churches. It’s interesting to note that while 23 of the 46 graduates in my class were women, the distribution of male/female balance was less equal in specific degree areas: 7 of the 10 MACF graduates were women, while only 13 of 34 of the MDiv graduates were women. Why this difference? Continue Reading »

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The New Wine of the Kingdom

6 comments Written on October 6th, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Headshot-Brian-Wiele-150x150Brian Wiele is Lead Pastor at River Ridge Covenant Church in Olympia, Washington, and serves as Chair of the Commission for Biblical Gender Equality for the Evangelical Covenant Church, which exists to equip the church to articulate the truth about Biblical equality regarding gender; and to advocate for women in ministry and leadership in all possible venues within the church. The following was first posted at The Junia Project (click here to visit site). It is re-posted today with their permission.

 

“… no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.” Luke 5:39 NLT

You Drink What The Host Is Pouring

I’m not much of a wine drinker, and will admit to being a lousy judge of quality.  But I do know that you drink what the host is pouring. To politely refuse what is provided is reasonably understandable.  But to insist on being served a different blend – one that you prefer, and definitely aged longer – would be incredibly rude.

Yet that’s exactly what the church has done and continues to do to Jesus, the host of the table where believers sit which we commonly call the Kingdom of God.

A Familiar Parable

The parable from which Jesus’ statement comes is familiar fare. In response to a question about fasting, Jesus spoke of the folly of putting an unshrunk patch of cloth on an old garment.   Carrying the illustration further, he added that new wine must be poured into new wineskins; the fermenting process of a new spirit would cause an old leather wineskin to break apart.  Only in Luke’s version do we have his added statement about the tendency to reject the new wine over one that is well aged.

We’ve generally interpreted the parable to refer to religious actions such as fasting, Sabbath observances, or acceptable foods. But there are many ways in which Jesus was pouring a new spirit into the wineskin of his church. One of those areas has to do with power and position. Continue Reading »

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Women in Ministry: The Method To Our Madness In 3 Not-So-Easy Suggestions

9 comments Written on October 1st, 2014     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
DanaisTG_25 (1)Danais is originally from Vieques, Puerto Rico. She currently studies Speech and Language Pathology at the graduate level. Her passions include linking the emerging research of the human microbiome and communicative disorders, as well as honoring God’s perfect design through gardening, creation care, and a great appreciation for whole foods. She recharges by hugging and kissing her toddler, spending time with her husband, reading, dancing and watching series on Netflix

It has long been my contention that the Church is the only place that can simultaneously hurt me and heal me. As someone who grew up in Vieques Puerto Rico, I longed for the church to be a sanctuary, a safe haven where we could discuss and counteract the injustices my community witnessed: racism, classism, environmental exploitation and the confiscation of our land. All of these injustices resulted in many deaths, including two of my family members’. In my most vulnerable moments, I oftentimes find myself wondering if my being a female Puerto Rican hurt my chances of recruiting church allies for my family and homeland. What if I were a man? What if I were a United States American, as opposed to a Puerto Rican with U.S. citizenship? Would Christian, justice-oriented evangelicals, have been enamored with my male eloquence (what if I were eloquent?) in a way that mobilized them around these causes? Would my voice have been heard and respected in a way that would have prompted a great multitude to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Vieques?

It took me a long time to reconcile the fact that the same place that prevented me from standing up and raising my voice against oppression became the place that taught me how to boldly proclaim that we worship a God who hates injustice. However, the restoration that I found within the church, did not occur before the church broke me. I left, yet I found myself back in the one place where I later found genuine healing. Continue Reading »

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