Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Just another Manic Monday

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it were Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
My I don't have to runday
It's just another manic Monday

The Bangles

There was a time when Sundays were a carefree 'funday' with no running around and no work!  Life as a Baptist minister means that Sundays, although often fun, are generally busy.  I have tried to make Mondays less manic.  Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't.  There is always the unexpected visit or pastoral emergency.  There is always paperwork.  There are always emails and phone calls.  There is always the next sermon to plan and write (Friday is normally sermon writing day).  Today, amongst other things, I sorted out my in-trays, filed some stuff away and wrote several to-do lists.  On my to-do list was to write another blog.  It is nearly midnight as I write this.  I guess today skipped over to tomorrow.  At least it didn't rewind to yesterday.

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday. 

Lennon, John Winston / McCartney, Paul James

I had in mind to blog on a new subject today but my mind keeps skipping back to the previous subject of women bishops.  I preached on women in ministry on Sunday.  I hope I did the subject justice.  Justice is, after all, what it is all about (see my post Women Bishops and Baptists).  Before the recent general Synod many thought progress was being made and finally women could be consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England but it looks as though that problem is here to stay, at least for the time being.  In the Baptist tradition we have regional ministers.  Some joke that they are our bishops but, with decisions being made in the church meeting and thus government is bottom-up rather than top-down, they are not quite the same.  The Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) is rather like an umbrella that shelters and protects its member churches.  Baptist churches are self-governing and free to discern the mind of Christ for themselves.  BUGB has no Synod to say what must happen in its member churches only advise.  They can advise and support the calling of women ministers, like myself, but they cannot tell a church they must accept a women minister or even allow one to preach.  BUGB seeks to support and encourage women ministers and to help educate its churches.  This is being done and yet I want to ask for more.  If we want society to take us seriously then we cannot preach justice on a Sunday and ignore the needs of our sisters in church.  Whether we are male, or indeed female, we all need to be encouraged and empowered to be who God has called us to be.  What use is it to pray that God sends his Holy Spirit to equip the church if we are going to ignore the gifts of more than half of the congregation.  I am not saying that all are called to lead the church.  I am saying that God calls women as well as men to do so.  It is clear that women need more encouragement than men to use their gifts and take up their calling.    

My journey to ordained ministry has been a long one with many twists and turns, I guess that's life, it began when I was about 16.  Having ran away from my calling, having tried to ignore it, having given it back to God only for it to come rebounding back I finally said yes to God.  Having completed my training it took me an extra year to find a church to pastor.  In the meantime I put that time to good use and completed an MA in mission, perhaps that was God's plan for me, but part of me just wanted to get out there.  Now I am 'out there' part of me wants to study some more, but that's just me.  I like to study.  I like to write.  It is part of who I am.  There is more I could tell you about that difficult journey but I prefer to live in the future rather than dwell on the past.  The future mission of the church lies in the hands of women and men.  It is God's mission not ours.  He has equipped his Church.  She is ready...

 Rise up church with broken wings
Fill this place with songs again
Of our God who reigns on high
By his grace again we'll fly.



Friday, 23 November 2012

Twitter, Blogs and Mumblings

I have been an avid Facebooker for the last six years, or so, it suited me especially whilst I was at college.  Facebook however, has now taken a backseat in favour of Twitter. I have only been twittering properly for the last month. To be honest I couldn't get my head around it so I stayed dormant in my egg. For those of you that don't tweet - you can upload a photo of yourself to Twitter but until then a picture of an egg remains for all to see that you haven't quite cracked it. Twitter is a brilliant way of networking with those you wouldn't normally have contact with. It looks outward into the world, where as Facebook is much more inward looking.  It is not only a brilliant networking opportunity but a way of sharing thoughts and feelings and making new friends.  

Many of the people on Twitter also have a blog. Over the last few days I have enjoyed other people's blogs as well as sharing my own.  I have been greatly encouraged by the response to what I have written and I hope I have also encouraged others.  The subject on everyone's twitter beaks, blogging fingertips, and Facebook lips is the subject of women bishops. Turn on the T.V. open the newspaper, or sit in a cafe and the same mumblings can be heard. My heartfelt cry is, 'Wake up church!' It's time to change and accept women in leadership or become (even more) irrelevant to the average man and women on the Street.

Earlier I read Andy Goodliff's blog and his post 'There is a line of Women' quotes the words of John Bell's hymn that has been shared on Facebook and that Catriona Gorton has written an extra verse to. Please follow the link and have a look for yourself at their thoughts. I was inspired to write a reply to Andy in verse.

Here is the hymn:

There is a line of women 
extending back to Eve
Who's role is shaping history
God only could conceive.
And though, through endless ages,
Their witness was repressed,
God valued and encourage them 
Through whom the world was blessed.
So sing a song of Sarah
To laughter she gave birth;
And sing a song of Tamar
Who stood for women's worth;
And sing a song of Hannah
Who bargained with her Lord;
And sing a song of Mary
Who bore and bred God's Word.
There is a line of women
Who took on powerful men
Defying laws and scruples
To let life live again.
And though, despite their triumph,
Their stories stay untold
God kept their number growing,
Creative, strong and bold.
So sing a song of Shiphrah
With Puah close at hand,
Engaged to kill male children,
They foiled the king's command.
And sing a song of Rahab
Who sheltered spies and lied; 
And sing a song of Esther
Preventing genocide.
There is a line of women
Who stood by Jesus side,
Who housed him while he ministered
And held him when he died.
And though they claimed he'd risen
Their news was deemed suspect
Till Jesus stood among them,
His womanly elect.
So sing a song of Anna
Who saw Christ's infant face;
And sing a song of Martha
Who gave him food and space;
And sing of all the Marys
Who heeded his requests,
And now at heaven's banquet
Are Jesus' fondest guests.

John L. Bell @ 2002 WGRG, Iona Community, 
4th floor, Savoy House, 140 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3DH Scotland.   

And my response:

There is a long line of women
Numb and full of pain
Wondering if life
Will ever be the same.
There is a long line of women
Weeping at the cross
Wondering if you
Will mop their tears
And take away their pain.
There is a long line of women
Holding hands in unity
Waiting for you to do the same.

By Revdjo

I took this at an art exhibition in Gloucester Cathedral

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Women Bishops and Baptists

My own journey as a women in ministry has not been as easy one.  Opportunities to preach and to use my gifts have been sadly lacking.  There have been times that I felt rather much life a jack-in-a-box waiting for someone to push the button and release me from my confined black box.  Thankfully God's light shines in the darkness and I have never lost my hope of truly being the women of God that I am meant to be.  We are all a work in progress and I will never be the finished product this side of eternity.  

Having spent 15 years as a financial adviser I have been used to working in a man's world where basic salaries were higher for men than women just because they were men.  In the world of commission based sales however, gender is not an issue as earnings are dependent upon performance.  I liked this levelling of the playing field.  Most people are not paid by commission but are salaried.  I have no idea whether the gender pay gaps are getting smaller, or not, I hope they are.  I hope that more women are being promoted to executive level.  To me this is an issue of justice.  It is not really about the money.  It is about having an equal playing field and the opportunities available to you whether you are male or female, and indeed whether you are black or white, able bodied or disabled.  It is a question of being able to reach your full potential and not being boxed in, or hitting some kind of glass ceiling, or as someone on twitter referred to as 'the stained glass ceiling.'  Today the Church of England Synod discussed, prayed, and voted as to whether women could be bishops.  Today was a sad day and I weep with my Anglican clergy sisters.        

Synod voted: 
House of Bishops 44 for, 3 against, 2 abstentions
House of Clergy 148 for, 45 against, 0 abstentions
House of Laity 132 for, 74 against, 0 abstentions
The measure for women bishops is not approved. 

Today there was also good news, Ellinah Wamukoya was consecrated as Southern Africa's first Anglican bishop.  Wow!  Fantastic!  Hallelujah!  Thank you Lord!  Why not in this country?  You can argue theology all you like but for me this is about the 'old boys network' and a church culture that needs to change.  

Looking at the results of the Synod's vote an obvious conclusion can be drawn.  There is a need for church leaders to teach their congregations (the laity) that there is no male or female in Christ, that women have been given the same gifts to lead and indeed have been called, by God, to use those gifts.  I am not an Anglican, I am a Baptist minister who believes in the priesthood of all believers but also that God calls individuals, men and women, to lead his church.  I have no desire to be a bishop, that's not my bag, but if the Anglican church are going to appoint bishops let them appoint my sisters as well.  The need to teach our congregations this important lesson is necessary in Baptist churches and indeed across our denominations.  Violet Hedger was the first female to be accepted for training for Baptist ministry in 1922.  Ninety years later there are still many Baptist churches in England and Wales who will not entertain a women as minister.  Opportunities are limited for my Baptist minister sisters as well.  Will this still be the same 100 year after Hedger was accepted for training? 

Please let my sisters and I out of the box.     

The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  John 1:5

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

To do or not to do

There is so much buzzing through my head these days it is difficult to know what to do or think about first.  I have a 'to do' list for medium to long term objectives but what about the more pressing things.  Do I waste time making a list or do I just wade straight in and get on with the tasks and check them off my mental 'to do' list.  Who knows what is right or wrong.  My list of blogging subjects seems to be in the same vain.  It seems though that there is a time lag in that I want to write about things after the proverbial horse has bolted rather than being current.  Perhaps that is just the nature of being a reflective practitioner, or at least trying to be.  

These are the things I have been thinking about and why.  Should I, shouldn't I?  What do you think?

Post traumatic stress disorder - I watched Ross Kemp's excellent program last night that looked at PTSD.
Armistice - I always get a bit chocked with the Remembrance Day words.
Spiritual direction - I have just taken this up.
Twitter - I am a new tweeter and slightly addicted.
Organizing my life - I am trying to find that work, life, spirituality balance. 
London guard coming to attention and salutingRecipes - I have a number of food allergies that makes eating boring.

Jimmy Savile - how can we support the abused?    
Opticians - 'seeing is believing' the search for vision.

Inter-faith - I listened to a Hindu speak on spirituality and quantum physics last night. 
Stalking - I watched a very good program on this a month or so ago.  I have been stalked.

Betting - was it right to bet on the Arch Bishop of Canterbury's appointment when it had been leaked?
Lucifer - do angles and demons exist?
Origami - to fold or not to fold? Just joking I know nothing about origami.
Gathering - is the word 'family' helpful in the context of church?
Gymnastics - spiritual and physical exercise.
Ingrowing toenail - how outward looking is the church?
Novel - is there a book in me somewhere?
Giggles - The need to laugh at myself.

Well pastor Jo is blogging .... and it looks a lot like a to do list.

Emoticon with big smile