Posts Tagged ‘Women’

Inclusion and Division

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Many read and comment on this blog who are interested in church growth.  That is the audience for today’s post.

Fascinating to read the challenges and changes facing the Catholic Church.  And the amazing part … simply change the names and you have the same contentious “script” that many Protestant churches are moving through.  And what are the main issues embedded in that script?  It seems the seminal issues appearing again and again include the role of women, divorce, homosexuality, concern for the poor and the environment, and the role of clergy.

These are clearly heated, contentious issues argued with great vigor by those desiring a more inclusive church and those desiring a more traditional church.   Given that rawness, civil dialog comes hard and at times appears impossible.

So what is the solution? The way forward?

I would imagine there is no one solution.  I imagine this is a tension we will live with in the upcoming years, not a problem we will quickly solve.  Likewise this inescapable tension will gather more “steam” so to speak as numerous churches experience continued decline. (Only 6% of churches experienced growth last year)

My hope is that respect … even through gritted teeth! … reigns.  Both sides claim to be stewards of the Christian message.  Both center on God.  On God’s Word.

My belief is that a more inclusive model is being born.  My prayer is that it remains inclusive.  Inclusive of many of the groups noted before. And inclusive of those who see the world and the future of Church differently – traditional and progressive.  As one priest noted in regard to welcoming back divorced parishioners to communion…

Everyone is trying to find a solution, putting together concern for the institution of marriage, and compassion to people in difficulty.  We just have to find a way to put these two together. 

A beautiful statement.  A meaning underneath the words that echoes a third way.




Meeting with Theological School Students to Talk about Women’s Ordination

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

I LOVE teaching.  Always have.  So it is fun to get the opportunity to return to the classroom to share thoughts.  Today was just such a day as I spoke to Theological Students at the Bryn Athyn College about the reasons for opening up the clergy to women pastors.

For me, the heartbeat of New Church theology centers on this view of an intensely loving God.  God is love.  Love is the core and central part of our life.  From there, our life of faith is built out.  It is not necessarily a life of “faith as certainty” but more a life in which “Faith is the eye of love, since it is from love through faith that the Lord is seen.”  (Heavenly Secrets, 3863)

In a fascinating theological premise, one that is frankly revolutionary, Emanuel Swedenborg held that churches actually “fall” when they deviate from this self-sacrificing love that is to be their pivot.  “Every church in its beginning regards the good of life in the first place, and truths of doctrine in the second; but as the church declines, its begins to regards the truths of doctrine in the first place and the good of life in the second.”  (Heavenly Secrets 82)  Simply put, we stop asking “What would love do?” as we mistakenly come to believe that we know is actually the most important thing.

I believe there is little hope in effectively answering the question, “What would love do?”, without a full balance, reciprocity, connection that a male and female clergy would supply.   A new world can be born out of fuller forms of partnership!

Protecting Women: “Saving Face”

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Two weeks ago I spoke to the power of Christ’s word when he told people in Mark that a man must leave his mother and father and “cleave to his wife.” That is powerful – revolutionary actually – for the Middle Eastern culture into which it was spoken, a culture that held women as property and the male line as supreme. That battle continues. I was struck by this documentary and the continued need to ensure the protection of women.  As New Church theology clearly points out, the love of dominating destroys all hope of love in a marriage.  Marriages can survive many things, but not one partner controlling the other.