I haven’t read Sarah Bessey’s book, Jesus Feminist, yet. But I already know I recommend reading it. Why? Because it’s a conversation worth having.
What the what, you might be thinking. I’m not about this feminist stuff, so PEACE OUT. If that is the case with you, I invite you to stick around. Perhaps you’ll find you can learn from someone different than you. However, it would probably be helpful if you started here: Jesus feminism. Then, while you are out and about the internet, read stories from others. I am little late to the party, but I am joining the synchroblog party.
I was raised in a small town in North Dakota. Lightning didn’t strike and nothing caught on fire, but I felt God’s nudging me toward a call to ministry. Even though I was born and raised in small town, conservative America where hard work and traditional roles are the norm, I never thought I was limited. I became part of the Church of the Nazarene, which is fortunately a denomination that allows and supports women in ministry. I had yet to read the statistics and research that it’s not always easy for a women to be hired in a church within a denomination that supports women in ministry. I was hopeful and optimistic. Maybe there’s some sort of genetic connection between all people named Annie where we are all singing, “Anything you can do, I can do better.”
My home church raised me and supported me. They allowed me opportunities to preach. Seriously, how many churches allow sixteen-year-old females the chance to preach? Not even just for special services, but for regular Sunday morning services. To say I’m thankful doesn’t sum it up. My senior pastor continues to support and encourage me. Never once did he appear to consider the fact I couldn’t be a pastor because I’m a female. So I never did either.
I’m a Jesus Feminist because I never knew there was any other way of looking at things. I’m a Jesus Feminist because when I was young, I assumed everyone was.
Freshman year my college roommate told me she didn’t believe women should be in ministry.
“You do know I’m a ministry major, right?” I asked. She did.
She clarified that she was fine with me being in ministry because I just wanted to be a youth pastor. Had I wanted to become a senior pastor, she openly told me she thinks that would be stupid. She is bold and opinionated. I love her, but we never agree. She told me females are too emotional to have as much responsibility as a senior pastor does.
Even thinking about being a Jesus Feminist makes me imagine her face cringe as she hears the word “feminist.” She gets annoyed by female sport commentators, so what about female preachers? The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had never met a women senior pastor before I was in college. In my church growing up, I never saw other women preaching or even collecting the offering. I always saw women in the kitchen helping with potlucks or in the nursery with the babies. Where’s the balance? My rooommate may be opinionated, but maybe her church never modeled what it could look like for women to be in ministry.
I’m a Jesus Feminist because it needs to be modeled. I’m a Jesus Feminist because I have a voice.
I was sitting in class–Introduction to Youth and Family Ministry–during a discussion on women in ministry. One of my peers next to me could not get through talking without crying. She shared her hurt of growing up in Small Town, Missouri never feeling accepting or supported as a woman in ministry. She carried both her Vera Bradley backpack and her scars of rejection into class that day.
I rarely spoke up in class, though my professor got on my case about that until the day I graduated. It was a small class with a surprisingly even ratio of males to females. That day I did say something, though undoubtedly because I knew as a female, I was expected to give my two cents. So I mentioned I did not think we needed to take time in class to discuss women in ministry because it was not that much of an issue.
As you continue to learn, you learn how little you know.
I’m a Jesus Feminist because I should have been an advocate for my classmate who has been burned by the Church.
It’s the day before my interview with a church board. I’m having coffee with the pastor. He tells me one of the board members does not believe women should be in ministry.
I’m stunned. I guess I didn’t realize we were living in Back to the Future, and we are in the 1950s. Sarcasm may not be the best response.
What about the words of Jesus? What kind of example of the Kingdom of God are we setting?
I stopped asking theological questions and begin asking, “Do I measure up? Maybe they don’t want women in ministry because I’m not good enough.” I begin to doubt myself. I began to wonder if I was less than.
I’ve heard the way some people preach about the women in the Bible. They speak about them as though they are the only broken ones and the only sinners because some are prostitutes. When I read the Bible, I see them as the faithful ones and the ones longing to be seen. I see them as the humble ones, pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet because they were able to see beyond the dogma and see Truth is a person.
I’m a Jesus Feminist because it’s the way I am able to reclaim my worth. I’m a Jesus Feminist because I cannot read Scripture faithfully without being a Jesus Feminist.
As part of my graduation requirements, I met with one of my professors to do an exit counseling of sorts. It was mainly to provide feedback about the program, but it covered a variety of questions. My professor just listened and typed our answers. He would read them back to clarify any questions. I don’t remember if it was one of the planned questions or a question raised from what I was saying, but I remember him asking if I felt any difficulties being a woman getting ready to enter ministry. Maybe I am naive, but I told him, “Honestly, when it comes to ministry, I don’t see myself a female.”
It’s not like that I see myself as a male, but I don’t see the difference. I am educated and qualified. It’s not like I’m blind to gender. I know I am female, but I’m not less than because of that fact. I am coming to realize the world is not going to hand out affirmations. It has not always been easy. I haven’t even been considered for positions because I’m a single female.
Ultimately, I am hopeful. I’m hopeful because we serve a God who sees us even while we are in the desert.
I’m a Jesus Feminist because I believe that’s the only way we can faithfully live out the Gospel.
Also don’t forget: check out the other synchroblog entries here!