By Cynthia A. Wilson.
In summer 2009, an intimate gathering of about eighteen church musicians from several denominations met at Calvin Institute. Paula D’Arcy, an author, a retreat leader, and a seminar speaker, gently reminded us of the need for worship leaders and facilitators to drink before they get thirsty. What a paradox that the keepers of the well of worship would have to be encouraged to drink often and deeply!
By Anita Wood.
By the action of the 1996 General Conference, The United Methodist Church established the order of deacon. This Order, which follows the lay position of diaconal minister and is distinct from the order of elder, seeks to revive the biblical understanding of deacon by focusing its ministry on serving those on the margins, namely, those whom others tend to forget. In Acts 6:1–8, deacons are instructed to serve the marginalized who are widows and orphans; today deacons lead others to serve whoever has needs.
By Jennifer L. Battiest.
For me, speaking the truth with grace about identity is a tremendous struggle. I struggle to define what being Choctaw means, what being a Christian is, and what being a missionary and a pastor means. I struggle with whether I can and want to be all that, for I do not speak the language of my people, and I am a church and community worker (a missionary). I am also en route to become an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church; yet I am still a little uncertain about why God thinks it is a good idea.
By HiRho Y. Park.
The first United Methodist Clergywomen’s Consultation occurred in 1975. Held approximately every four years, consultations provide a support system for clergywomen. In 2006, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) sponsored the International United Methodist Clergywomen’s Consultation in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the granting of full clergy rights to women in the Methodist tradition.
By Tweedy Sombrero.
One of the hardest things to do is to believe in yourself, especially when it seems that others do not believe in you or your work, do not believe in your ability to do the work, and do not believe that you can be the leader you are called to be.
By Bishop Beverly J. Shamana, Retired.
Speaking the truth in love demands creativity. A straightforward whack at harmful, entrenched belief is sometimes best, but not every time. Diversity in speaking the truth in love is what counts, especially since we live in a time that still calls us to break open the Church’s frozen imagination. Filled with images rooted in the past of who is qualified to lead the Church, most members still doubt whether clergywomen have the requisite skills to lead the denomination. Even after fifty-five years of witnessing their competence and grace and their transmission of the good news of Christ in ways that cross all barriers in its appeal, members continue to doubt.
By Susan Willhauck.
Transformation of any kind can come only from a holy scuffle. In our tradition, women in ministry have been engaged in a graceful struggle, one of those genuine paradoxes of leadership. Struggle implies suffering, great effort, and determination, perhaps even the gnashing of teeth and flailing of arms; yet a struggle can also be a dance with movements that free us from past confines. When that struggle is filled with grace, God is made known, wisdom prevails, and metamorphosis happens.
By Jacqueline M. Burgess.
I have learned that it is fine to speak and act prophetically about the social, economic, and political systems and structures beyond the local church and be pastoral too. It is hard to be the one whom people seek out for counsel, healing, confession, and grace when you take on the systems and structures within that congregation. How can I become “Pastor Jackie” to the flock whom God has called me to serve without compromising my deepest convictions or keeping them to myself? How can I mediate grace and speak the truth at the same time? Should these really be in conflict with each other? Do I have to choose one or the other?
By Delana Taylor McNac.
As a woman of Native American heritage, I have been taught from childhood to respect my elders and listen to their teachings. In my experience, lessons are sometimes shared via story or metaphor, while at other times they are conveyed through correcting or modeling behaviors. One of the most profound lessons I learned from my elders relates to the power of words and the need to choose carefully when and where to use my voice.
By Felicia Howell LaBoy.
Although I am often in situations where I am one of a few clergywomen of color present, if not the only one, or I am the first woman or woman of color to serve in a previously male-oriented or Anglo-oriented role, I would not say that I always speak the truth with gentleness in ministerial or academic situations. Given my northeastern sensibilities, specifically my northern New Jersey upbringing, more often than not, I tend to speak the truth plainly and clearly in times of covert and overt racism, sexism, classism, and privilege—no sugarcoating, no beating around the bush. I say what I mean and let the chips fall where they may.