Archive for June, 2015

8 Ways Men Can Advocate For Women’s Equality

2 comments Written on June 30th, 2015     
Filed under: Resources
This post was originally published on May 22, 2015 by Kathy Escobar on her blog and printed in full below with her permission. Kathy is co-pastor of The Refuge, a faith community in North Denver. She describes herself as most passionate about community, the marginalized, healing, spiritual transformation, equality, justice, “church”, relationships, diversity, and learning to love and be loved. You may link to her blog here.

 

Yesterday I had the privilege of sharing on a panel alongside 4 other female pastors & leaders in a room filled with about 25 male pastors & leaders in Denver. Most everyone had evangelical roots, and while some pastored churches others were leading nonprofits and various ministries in town.

There was only one purpose: to listen to what it was like to be a woman in ministry.

We had told our stories several months before in a similar forum, but last time the number of women listening far outweighed the number of men. This time around, it was specifically for men and some dear friends worked extra hard to invite men to be part.

I admit, I was a little edgy on the way there. It is so vulnerable to share our real stories, not knowing what the consequences might be. Even though I’ve been an outspoken advocate for women’s equality for many years, when the conversations are in a more intimate but also professional setting, there’s more at risk.

The thing that kept me going was remembering change won’t happen unless we are willing to risk, to rock boats, to ruffle feathers, to disturb the status quo. Yeah, Well behaved women won’t change the church.

And it always seems like the way toward something new together comes from a weird combination of humility & openness & discomfort & vulnerability for everyone involved.

While the agenda wasn’t beyond listening, it was clear there was a desire for a lot of the men attending to learn how to become better advocates for women’s equality.

What does that tangibly look like? What helps heal the divide between men and women in the church? How can men better participate in healing the deep grooves of patriarchy? How can we become equals, true equals? Continue Reading »



A Body God Loves: How My Faith Impacted Bath Time

2 comments Written on June 23rd, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
New PictureJon Lemmond is Pastor for Congregational Life at Montecito Covenant Church, Santa Barbara, CA and an adjunct professor at Westmont College. Jon received a M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in early modern European history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focused on the issue of domestic abuse during the Protestant Reformation. He is married to Marianne Robins, a full-professor at Westmont College, and they parent four children: Jeremie, Emma, Jordan, and Lea.

 

We live in a world where our bodies are often experienced as burdens – a world where advertisers seek to alienate us from our own bodies by describing them as always lacking, desperately in need of some fixing or enhancement. Unfortunately, this is also true of many churches where sin is so closely defined by our bodies and where our souls and minds are envisaged as being our true selves. More than ever, the church needs to find ways to embody and reclaim the Biblical truth that our bodies, all bodies, are wonderful creations of a loving God. As a pastor and parent, I have come to learn that we will never be able to come close to gender equality without attending to the sacredness and vulnerability of our bodies. The ability to see one’s whole self as loved and empowered by God needs to be more than a mental task but also connected to tangible practices which help us envision all aspects of our lives as sacred.

The beauty of the body is everywhere found in the Scriptures. The Old Testament is replete with praise and wonder at our bodies as God’s good creation. Even a cursory review of the Psalms acknowledges the myriad ways our bodies are spiritual vehicles made for relationship with God: flesh longs for God (Ps. 63:1), can come to God (65:2), cry out for God (Ps. 84:2), and bless his holy name (Ps. 145:21). In one of the most well-known Psalms on the body (Psalm 139) – Leslie Allen translates vss. 13-14 – “Indeed you yourself created my kidneys; you wove me together in my mother’s womb. I give you thanks because you are awesomely wonderful, so wonderful is what you have made.” The wording of Leslie Allen’s translation is helpful. The Psalmist does not praise God because he (the Psalmist) is wonderful. He says that we are wonderful because God is – “you [God] are awesomely wonderful, so wonderful is what you have made.” God, the Psalmist declares, is the One who is the source of wonder for our bodily life. This means that bodies are not precious because they are beautiful or thin, well-groomed with straight teeth, muscular, controlled, or sleek. Your body – every body – is precious because it is the Lord’s. This shouldn’t detract from a sense of wonder about yourself – you are wonderfully made – but vs. 14 says that the wonderfulness of your body connects directly to God. So the task of the church is to help people creatively connect, love and serve one another in a way that protects the body, delights in the body, and cherishes the body as part of God’s good creation. Continue Reading »



Subversive Sermons: Women Hymn Writers as Preachers

5 comments Written on June 16th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
David Bjorlin is a pastor of worship at Resurrection Covenant Church (Chicago) and adjunct lecturer in worship at North Park Theological Seminary. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in liturgical studies at Boston University where he focuses on hymnody, the connection between liturgy and ethics, and children in worship. He recently published Incorporating Children in Worship: Mark of the Kingdom with NPTS professor Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom.

 

Growing up as a pastor’s kid in a Pentecostal church in northern Minnesota, I spent an inordinate amount of time in church. And in that tradition, sermons were not a fifteen-minute homily but at least a forty-five minute ordeal. With an attention span that usually ran out just as the preacher was working his way out of the introduction (in this tradition, it was always “he”), much of my time in church was spent looking for creative but quiet ways to pass time that seemed to have slowed to a crawl. Sometimes this was accomplished through vivid daydreaming; I would later resonate with the Wendell Berry character Jayber Crow who noted, “Some of the best things I have ever thought of I have thought of during bad sermons.”

But one of my favorite pastimes during sermons of indeterminate length was to grab the unused, dusty brown hymnal in front of me (the Assemblies of God’s Hymns of Glorious Praise) and leaf through its contents. During one of these forays into the hymnal, I noticed that one name seemed to recur with some regularity: Fanny J. Crosby. During a particularly long and arduous sermon, I set out to count how many hymn texts were written by this ubiquitous woman (21, in case you were wondering!). The search also brought to light hymn texts by Cecil Francis Alexander (“There Is a Green Hill Far Away”), Frances Ridley Havergal (“Take My Life and Let It Be” and “Like a River Glorious”), Louisa Stead (“’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”), and those translated from the German by Catherine Winkworth (“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” and “Now Thank We All Our God”), to name but a few. While at the time I didn’t notice the irony, I later came to realize how strange it was that in a tradition where women were banned from the pulpit, we had a hymnal chock-full of texts written by women. Continue Reading »



Kitchen Conundrum

4 comments Written on June 8th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Mug 2Karen Hinz is solo pastor of Mission Covenant Church in Ishpeming, Michigan. She loves to travel when time and money allow. Raising teenagers is her current joy and challenge!

I know this column is a place for serious discussion of issues facing women in ministry. And I’m usually pretty serious, but sometimes, we’ve just got to laugh. So today, don’t take life too seriously. Allow yourself a chuckle. It’s good for the body and the soul.

When I was a child, the church kitchen was run by Mrs. Bance, who had white hair, and Mrs. Bice, who had slightly blue white hair. Noisy kids were not welcome. Many years later, when I started as a solo pastor, I wondered what my relationship to the church kitchen ought to be. This was not covered in seminary. Was I welcome in the kitchen? Banned? Expected to share the load the same as the other women in the church? When “fellowship hosting sheets” came around, was I supposed to sign up?

The church kitchen is usually the domain of a few specific women, but also a place of expectations for all church women. In many churches today, males of any sort – and particularly male pastors – are not still not allowed near these stainless steel temples. Or at least not expected to take their turns. In fact, in these places, kitchen ladies will come to church any time of day to make coffee for the pastor, or for any gathering the pastor may be hosting. So I found myself puzzled as to what to do. For two years, I purposely did not learn how to operate the church coffeepots, because it seemed like trying to take over the kitchen ladies’ turf. But this also raised the familiar question: does a clergy woman need to act like a man to be respected as pastor? It’s a Catch-22. The last couple of years, I have been making coffee when needed. And no one seems to mind. Continue Reading »



The New Shame: Why Gender Equality Is Still Worth Fighting For

5 comments Written on June 2nd, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
mandi2015Mandi Cherico is a second year M.Div student at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. Raised in the Twin Cities, her interests include feminism, word-care, aesthetics, and Beyonce.

 

 

“Are there really that many hurting women in the Church?”

I was a freshman at a Christian college when I heard one of my professors pose this question to our class. Yes, I replied, women were still second-class citizens in many congregations, yet he was unconvinced. According to him, the women in his church seemed happy and fulfilled. We’ve come a long way. Women have the right to vote and work outside the home, why make an issue out of nothing?

I wish I could tell you that I attended college in an era of widespread, Mad Men-type sexism but, alas, I graduated in the early 2000s. I’ve reflected on his disbelief since then, still saddened by his ignorance. His question taught me something valuable, though. For some among us, the struggles of women in the 21st century are a non-issue. It is the opinion of some, even (especially?) in the Church, that discussions on gender equality are simply not needed today.

I agree that it’s good to recognize women’s progress. Three waves of feminists spanning two centuries have done hard and necessary work both inside and outside the Church to create a more equal playing field for women and men. There are far more women in the workforce this decade than ever before. For every one man who graduated from college in the U.S. in 2009, three women earned their diplomas as well. Women are running companies and running for president. So why, some may ask, are we still writing blogs about gender equality? Continue Reading »