In the midst of our Thanksgiving series – “1,000 Gifts” – one that I have been thinking about today is the gift of Women’s Ministry. In today’s Christian world, women make up the majority of involved members. One study cited that the average congregation in the US is divided 61% female, 39% male. One cannot fight demographics. For NewChurch LIVE the breakdown if we use our 1215 Facebook fans as a sample is 60% female, 40% male.
What are the gifts so readily observable in NewChurch LIVE of our Women’s Ministry?
- Monthly vesper programs designed to specifically serve women
- Leadership in the life giving work of various committees and ministries
- Leadership in service work
- Invaluable input in shaping the Sunday message
Without the work of Angela, Shada, Ruth, Katie, Jessica …. (and the list goes on and on!) we would NOT exist as a church. With their work we become a church of outward looking richness and depth.
It saddens me then to hear of lock tight arguments around women filling in lock tight fashion one particular role and men another. Of course each gender is unique and brings special gifts and talents as noted numerous places in New Church theology. And, that being said, we are all whole individually. We are all human. We all bring humanity to life. That is why the concept, made famous in the movies of “you complete me” is so patently silly. A “sweet addition”, yes. A “completion”, no.
With gender issues we can start there, which is in effect a big “yes.” Or we can start with “defending the borders” – replacing that “yes” with a defensive “no.”
At one time, I resigned from Seminary over this issue. Someone posted in a public space a commentary on how the increase in female clergy directly fed the rise of homosexuality. I found that to be deeply offensive on many levels. I returned because maybe I grew up a bit and realized that was one opinion and the beautiful Christian message at the heart of the New Church was more important than my own snobbish righteous indignation.
There remains a great deal of tension around the issue of gender roles. In many Christian churches that plays out in terms of ordained clergy. There are strong arguments for women’s ordination. My recommendation if you enjoy deep theology would be to read what was offered by a former Bishop in the New Church, Rev. Louis King, as well as from one of my favorite Pastors, Rev. David Roth. On a personal level, I side definitively with their well thought out positions. And, I fully respect that the current church body does not hold the same opinion and therefore at this time does not ordain women.
My hope, again personal, is that that time comes. And my hope is that women continue to offer their incredible gifts to God, to the world, and to this church. My hope for men is the same. And underneath is a belief that if we offer gifts unique to our genders and also gifts unique to our humanity we will add immeasurably to this wonderful tapestry of life. That is a grand YES!