Archive for August, 2015

God is Living Artist Ever Creating Us, Living Artistry of God

4 comments Written on August 25th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Mary PRev Mary Putera is currently serving as the Pastor of Sunset Covenant Church in Oregon. Rev. Putera is also working on her doctorate with the European Graduate School.

To “offer oneself”, to bring and give freely of who one is, in a foreign context, amidst the complex circumstances of recent systemic trauma, ongoing societal struggles and the emerging qualities of resilience, is to give in to God’s call to be vulnerable. I am going, and I struggle with going. I struggle to settle into vulnerability. Make no mistake, going is a constant wrestling for me, until my feet pass through security, and then surrender is the only option.

In 3 weeks I will return to Nepal as a trainer and teacher of Expressive Art Therapy and Community Art Practice. As a pastor, part of my call is to bring word of God reaching out to the world. God reaches out to the world as the Living Artist, reminding us all of the inherent beauty residing in each of us as “imago Dei”. As theologian Garcia-Rivera points out, the Greek word for “beauty” has two forms; hallos (noun) which means to call, and Kalon (adj) which means “the called” (1999) Garcia-Rivera expands this definition writing; “Theological aesthetics attempts to make clear once again the connection between Beauty and the beautiful, between Beauty’s divine origins and its appropriation by the human heart”(1999). Continue Reading »



The Witness of Female Pastors: Empowering the Church to Dream

13 comments Written on August 18th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
chic2Cathy Kaminski is the lead pastor at Trinity Community Church in Cincinnati, OH. She is a self proclaimed jogger, coffee-lover, corny joke enthusiast, and sinner saved by grace.

Earlier this summer I was getting ready to take some of our high school students to a youth conference known as CHIC, (www.chic2015.org). While every pastor is different, when preparing for a week away I feel the need to overcompensate by delegating even the most minute tasks. It was in this attempt at organized chaos when one of the church-goers informed me, “It’s ok Pastor Cathy. I’ll be the pastor this week.” This church-goer happened to be a seven year old girl.

I stooped down, smiled and encouraged, “Sounds like a plan! Do you want to preach too?” She laughed and told me next time. But to tell you the truth, I wasn’t joking. In that moment I was filled with a sense of joy and I couldn’t quite place why.

Throughout the course of the following week, while ministering to students and seeing God move in unimaginable ways, I took time to reflect on other instances when filled with that same unexplainable joy. There was a time around Christmas. A mom shared a story of her youngest daughters. They had received toy microphones as presents. How did they decide to play with these microphones? One might think: be a pop star. A comedian, perhaps. But no, these girls decided to pretend to be “Pastor Cathy.” Their mother informed me they welcomed the family to church, gave announcements, led songs, and even gave mini-sermons. My heart was filled with these precious little ones.

Cathy KaminskiBut it was more than love for these little girls that was causing my heart to swell. It wasn’t until an afternoon at CHIC that the picture finally became clear. I had the privilege of partnering with another youth group to embark on the adventure that is CHIC. Our three students joined a church with twenty and together we enjoyed the conference. Towards the end of the week, the other pastor, a male colleague of mine, shared an unexpected benefit of joining forces. In his context, many of his students have not experienced the leadership of a female pastor. Being able to minister well, love, and care for these students expanded their understanding of God.

His insight opened my eyes to what God had been stirring in me for months. Why am I so overwhelmed by these little girls pretending to be pastors? Because they are growing up knowing that God can use them in every single capacity of church leadership. It hit me that I might be the only lead pastor they remember from childhood and their understanding of God and women in leadership will forever be impacted by that fact.

A little of my story: I used to be a complementarian, (meaning I did not affirm women in leadership). I had never seen it. Never experienced it. And often had doors slammed in my face if I challenged it. It was a long journey towards answering the call to pastoral leadership. This is a life I could have never imagined and was unable to dream for myself.

But these little girls, these student, male and female, for all of the parishioners I am privileged to pastor…for them a female pastor is normal. Seeing a woman preach, teach, administer communion is not questioned, but celebrated. I get to be a part of a witness that opens people’s eyes to how God calls humanity to serve. I struggled for so long because I could not picture what female head leadership could look like. Now I get to paint that picture!

I don’t know your context. I don’t know your story. But I do know that empowering women to serve in all aspects of church life does more than affirm their call. For all of us it deepens our love and understanding of God and helps us to dream.



Wondering…

2 comments Written on August 11th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Jeff Ondrey is a nursing home adminstrator in Western New York and is a member of the Commission on Biblical Gender Equality. 

This past weekend, I had the fortune to be able to visit my little grandson and his family in Washington, DC.  My wife and I took part of a day to visit some of the monuments that we had not seen in over 35 years.  What an inspiring place that has memorialized some inspiring quotes from some inspiring men and women. Our morning began at the Jefferson memorial where the irony unfolded that I had just finished reading the following quote by Thomas Jefferson when a rag tag group of people brandishing confederate flags made a visual spectacle on the steps of the memorial.

jefferson quote

While my own intolerant mind tried to be gracious to allow them the freedom to express themselves, (and I knew my own limitations on this and did not linger to listen to them) I wondered if they had taken the time to read the words on the four massive engravings surrounding Jefferson’s statue. Continue Reading »



On Being Fleas Against Injustice

5 comments Written on August 5th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Catherine Gilliard is co-senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

My heart is breaking and my resolve has strengthened. With each newscast about another encounter involving an abuse of power or another incident where systemic injustice remains unchallenged, I have become more aware of the silence of women of faith. Let’s be real, my sisters, women are gifted, relational and influential. Yet somehow our voices are missing from these critical conversations happening across our nation right now.

Shaped by the words of Proverbs 31:8-9 women who lead and serve in the church can move from silence into this unique season where gifts of organizing, advocacy and leadership are so needed. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

We should paste these words on our mirrors as a reminder to us as we wake each morning that each day will bring with it an opportunity to speak for the voiceless, to understand the facts so we can judge fairly and to move into action in defense of the poor and needy. Seasoned with our own stories of struggle, women of faith can name the faceless nature of evil. Our own life journeys give us an unique ability to recognize the intricate ways in which marginalization and class distinctions weave strong webs of isolation and domination. Women who lead and serve in the church are called to speak words of truth that are seasoned with love and to connect the dots for others who have the power to release those who are oppressed and denied access to needed resources by systems of injustice. My heart breaks, but my resolve is strengthened to inspire women to join the national conversation. Our voices are needed, our perspectives required and our stories must be included if we are to break the collective silence women of faith on issues of injustice. Continue Reading »