Archive for October, 2017

Mary Mary

Post a Comment » Written on October 23rd, 2017     
Filed under: Poetry

Debra Auger was called out, by a mentor, as being in “the middle of life” when attending seminary, which is, now, nearly twenty years ago! Even though a “late bloomer” she has had the opportunity to serve in a variety of roles from her current one at NPTS as the Dean of Students and Community Life for over a decade and before that, for six years, as a faculty member and Director of Ministry Arts at Covenant Bible College in Ecuador. She earned a doctor of ministry in spiritual formation and direction at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and is an associate professor of ministry. Her most significant work, though, has been raising her four kids and discovering life with her partner and husband, Bob.

 

Mary Mary

Seems unfair we always praise your virtue

Of love and faith

the student’s place

listening

learning…..be-ing

Martha Martha

         Seems a shame Your service went upraised

Of work and welcome

                  The place of host

Unending work of doing….doing

Sisters both…once and always… are choices thicker than blood?

Choice to do and choice to be …..Embodying both…as do we.

 

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Like Pulling Teeth…

1 Comment » Written on October 18th, 2017     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Mary Peterson serves as Pastor of Children, Youth and Family Ministry at Highland Covenant Church in Bellevue, Washington. She is also President of Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women and sits on the Commission of Biblical Gender Equality.

My almost nine year old son has a common problem… huge teeth and a little mouth. So we have ventured into the world of orthodontics early in his life. He was the first second grader to get braces at his school. Thankfully, this was a seriously cool moment in the life of my sanguine boy. The orthodontist explained the importance of making room early in his mouth to allow the permanent teeth to have a place to enter correctly. So with the addition of a spacer and some barbed wire, we have been making space for his new teeth to come through this past year. Overall the results have been amazing, but there are two incisors that are refusing to budge. They are his baby teeth, and they don’t want to come out. They are refusing to make space for the teeth who are anxiously waiting in the wings to make their appearances. My brave son has done the hard work of wiggling those obstinate teeth to encourage them to leave. He was successful with one of them, but the other will require assistance from our dentist to come out.

As I sat around a conference table last week, it struck me that this is the exact kind of work we are trying to do with women in church leadership. After decades of study of Scripture and context, we have decided to fully support the inclusion of women in all levels of leadership within our denomination. And it is difficult work.  I know so many women who are waiting in the wings for an opportunity to utilize their education, giftedness and calling. All they need is a space to do their work. We have to think strategically about where we need to make space for women to enter into leadership roles- to evaluate how the systems that naturally work to increase leadership capabilities in our male pastors need to shift to include women. Just like the spacer stretches the upper jaw to make room for those new teeth, we need to look for places to make more space.

Making room requires more than just stretching. We may also need to do some difficult work of removing obstacles that are preventing women from entering into the roles to which God is calling them. Do our church policies support women who are entering into ministry later in life? Do we support women who need a break to raise babies or care for aging parents? Do we value the life experience of women who took a long time to understand and envision God’s calling on their lives? Do we value the years of hard work in children or youth ministry as valid experience to move into senior pastor roles? Are we including women in church leadership at all levels? Do we listen for the voices of our sisters of color? Do our pay and benefit structures reflect our commitment to equality? Are there churches or organizations in our denomination who refuse to acknowledge the giftedness and calling of women?

It is difficult work to be self-reflective as an individual or an organization, but necessary for our healthy growth. We have lots of room to grow. I can only imagine the beautiful smile that God will have when he sees his church as he imagines it- women and men serving fully as they live and grow into their callings together. I have a feeling it will be an even bigger smile than when my kid gets his braces off in a few months.

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The Day of the Girl Child

Devyn Chambers Johnson serves as co-pastor of Community Covenant Church in Springfield, Virginia. Devyn, and her husband Ryan, are proud parents to two active young daughters. In addition to serving as co-pastor Devyn is pursuing her Doctorate in Ministry with an emphasis in leadership and ministry development. 

My husband and I are raising two amazing girls who I know will change the world. Our oldest is a natural performer who loves life, exudes joy and turns any social situation into a party. Our youngest, a mere 15 months old, is more reserved but determined, thoughtful and independent.

And they make me see my call as a pastor differently.

I was raised a pastor’s daughter and the most common avenue for ministry that I saw available to women was that of a pastor’s wife. Ironically, I married a pastor and now wear dual hats as both a pastor and a pastor’s spouse.

But my girls see the world so incredibly differently than I did as a young girl.

This summer we drove passed our neighborhood Lutheran church, where my friend serves as pastor and where oldest had attended Vacation Bible School. She began to retell the story of how she got scared but Julia’s mommy let her sit in her office and helped her feel better.

Making conversation I pointed out that Julia’s mom is the pastor of that church. To which my daughter responded “Yeah! She’s really nice.”

Then out of curiosity, and because you never really know the mind of a four year old, I asked “Who’s the pastor at our church?”

And as a true four year old she replied with her newfound know-it-all exasperation “you are mom!”

And I couldn’t help but smile. Not because I needed some sort of affirmation from my four year old but because I realized that to her it was a ridiculously stupid question. Her mom is a pastor (and her dad too!) and while that reality is still foreign to some—it isn’t to her.

And it hit me—that for all the advocacy and training I can provide for women in ministry the greatest gift of my call is the gift of normalcy to a younger generation.

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