Letter of hope

Dear Baptist Soon-to-be Women,
Dear Hope of a Women in Ministry Advocate,
Dear Daughters of the Church,

I write to you because you are what who I think about. You are in my thoughts when I talk to female colleagues. You are in my thoughts when I have conversations about a woman’s proper place. You are in my thoughts when I am sitting in class, representing you. You are in my thoughts when I urge my coworkers to be mindful of gender pronouns. You are in my thoughts when I plan the next steps of Baptist Women in Ministry-Missouri. You are in my thoughts when I am in tears mourning the lack of opportunities for gifted women of God.

You are in my thoughts because I hope and pray that your journey is easier than mine. I hope that your gifts are being encouraged, that people refer to you as “the future pastor.” I hope that no matter the gender of your pastor (though at this point, I have to assume male) that you have seen women in the pulpit, preaching and ministering and delivering the word of God. I hope that you know ministry is an option for you. I hope that you have church leaders who see your giftedness and give you opportunity to develop it.

I hope that you are in class with others who look like you – and, of course, those who don’t. I hope that being a pastor can be a “back-up” option for you if you decide the academic life isn’t what you want.

I hope that it is assumed that you are what a preacher looks like.  That you are seen as a valuable resource from the moment you step into the room. That you have a prominent role in local clergy groups.

I hope that you are addressed as Preacher and Minister and Proclaimer instead of speaker. I hope your classmates give you nicknames like “Rev” or “Doc” and ask for your insight on their projects. I hope that you can serve in the tradition of your choice and not have to think about whether your calling or denominational preference come first.

I hope Baptist Women in Ministry will be a group of women who enjoy hanging out and brainstorming together instead of a group advocating for a place at the table. I hope that your daughters wear heels and play church, preaching and serving communion and blessing the world.

I hope your voice is always compassionate and full of authority. I hope your voice speaks truth to power and seeks justice for all of God’s people.

And I hope that whatever you are called to be, that you see a way there. I hope that you don’t have to spend nights in tears wondering if there is a place for you.

I hope for you. I think of you. You are my prayer.

With love,
Jennifer

(photo credit)

thanks to David Cassady for inspiring this post!

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8 Comments

Filed under BWIM-Missouri, reflection

8 responses to “Letter of hope

  1. It is great that many religions see women as equals and they can pastor. So many religions are still “behind” on this. Praying that changes!

  2. Oh what a beautiful post! I hope these things too for women who feel called by God. I hope they are given opportunities now to use and develop their gifts. I hope there are people who are encouraging them to listen closely and dream big. I hope they never have to defend their desire to have vocation & family.
    Thanks again for writing this! You are what a preacher looks like and You are paving the way for the women you write to in this post!

  3. This is an issue I struggle with. I don’t think women are incapable of being ministers, pastors, etc. I guess what I struggle with is in 1 Timothy 1:12 where it says that women are not to teach or exercise authority over a man. My BA is in Biblical Studies, though I’m not a pastor. I do realize that parts of the Bible are written to specific things happening at the time it was written, are culturally relavant, etc. So, is this passage referring to the times/culture of the day, or is this something that we still need to follow today?

    As I said, I don’t think women are incapable of being pastors and ministers, but what I do struggle with is whether or not this passage is “outdated” or not.

    • Thanks for asking. Honestly, I don’t know what to do with that passage — I’ll have a better idea in a month (I hope!) as I’m currently writing an exegetical paper on 1 Timothy 2:11-15 (I’m assuming this is what you meant, not chap. 1). What I do know is that other Pauline texts seem supportive of women (he commends them as colaborers and colleagues) and that other parts of the Bible certainly do (“your sons and daughters shall prophesy” in Joel, for example or in Christ there is no male nor female… ). And we know that the church for the first few centuries had women serving in leadership roles — from prophets to deaconesses to communion servers to church hosts (remember that churches met mostly in homes at this time).

      I don’t think the Timothy passage is outdated, but my hunch (and until I research more, it is certainly just a hunch) is that we read this passage out of context. And I say that because the early church did not seem to interpret this letter to say that women could not be church leaders. What was going on in the community the letter was addressed to? Might it be addressing a particular situation? The letter also sets out requirements for the position of Widow (in caps to distinguish from “widow” as a marital status), which was a ministry position at the time. I think we need to hold all of this in the conflict it presents in order to figure out what might really be going on.

      This may have been as helpful as mud. I’ll be glad to send you my findings next month — or perhaps someone who knows more than I do will stumble across this and add better words =0)

  4. Jennifer – Sounds like an interesting adventure you’re on.
    Challenging the power, profit, and prestige of “The Religious System” of today…

    You write…
    “I hope that you have *church leaders* who see your giftedness”

    Was wondering…
    Where are you with the use of the word “leader” for a“Disciple of Christ?” 😉
    Can’t seem to find the term “church leaders” in my antiquated KJV. ; -)

    Jesus always took and recommended the **low place.** Yes?
    The word “leader” seems like a “high place.” Yes?

    Seems Jesus has a unique take on “Leaders” for **His Body.** “ONE”

    As man – Jesus humbled Himself, made himself of NO reputation,
    and took on the form of a **Servant.** Php 2:7-8. 😉

    How do “you” reconcile the use of the word “leader”
    when “Jesus” told **His disciples** NOT to be called “leader?”

    Jesus, in Mat 23:10 KJV, told **His disciples** “NOT” to call themselves
    “Master / Leaders,” for you have “ONE” “Master / Leader” “The Christ.”

    King James Version –
    Neither be ye called masters:
    for “ONE” is your Master, even Christ.

    The Interlinear Bible –
    Nor be called leaders,
    for “ONE” is your leader the Christ.

    Phillips Modern English –
    you must not let people call you leaders,
    you have only “ONE” leader, Christ.

    Today’s English Version –
    nor should you be called leader.
    your “ONE” and only leader is the Messiah.

    Jesus told **His disciples** NOT to be called **leaders** and NONE did.

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    **His Disciples** all called themselves **Servants.**
    None called themselves “Leaders.” None? None.
    None called themselves “Servant-Leader.” None.

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders”
    and someone calls them self a “leader” or thinks they are a “leader;”

    Are they a “Disciple of Christ?”

    Or, are they NO LONGER a “Disciple of Christ?” Oy Vey!!! 😉
    Or, are they just a **disobedient** “Disciple of Christ?” 😉

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? 😉

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    • Fair enough. Although in most church settings I’ve been in, “leader” was really a reclaiming of the word with the idea of a servant. I suppose I’m not as worried about the title itself (after all, Jesus didn’t even speak English) as much as the way the role is fulfilled. I do believe that “church leaders” are (or at least SHOULD be) servants. And there are folks who “lead” us whether or not we use that terminology. The folks you referenced may have called themselves “servants,” but other people followed them (and continue to). I use “church leaders” in that way.

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