Tiffany Knowlin explains how believers must be deliberate in our effort and our commitment to honor and respect difference as we work together to worship the one living God. There will be difficulties and challenges to work through, yet as we do the work of the kingdom, fear of rejection, fear of acceptance, and fear of division cannot reign.
The Rev. Breanna Illéné, of the Wisconsin area of the United Methodist Church, is one of the bright young clergywomen who is shaping the Church of the future…and the present. She explains how instead of harkening back to the Church’s “former glory,” we need to rebuild God’s house in a way that responds to the current realities within our communities.
Courtney McHill, of the Oregon-Idaho Area of the United Methodist Church, shares how many of her male clergy contemporaries were surprised to hear about some of the challenges that clergywomen still face today, and how she deals with them by remembering that God created her in God’s image, as good and whole, in female flesh.
By Betty Kazadi Musau.
There is a metaphorical usage of a woman in pain that turns into a joy, happiness after giving birth to a child from John16:21. Paul uses metaphors for the church in his letters. He compares the church to the local community, body of Christ, universal community, bride. In his metaphors for the church, there is no tension in referring to specific groups of churches as though sending greetings to the congregation as a unity (Rom 16:5). He develops fully the concept of the church by embracing all churches, which leads to the universal church. So, for him, church meant the local church, not in isolation but in connection with the universal fellowship and with a strong sense of belonging to it. There was an interconnection at the worldwide level according to particular and varying needs. We need to thank Paul for his imagery language of the church.
By Hannah Adair Bonner.
The first time that I heard a woman preach about the birth of Jesus, I realized what I had been missing my whole life growing up in a church that did not have women as pastors. Dr. Anathea Portier-Young, one of the youngest professors at Duke Divinity at the time, preached on Mary during Advent and brought a perspective on birthing pains that changed everything in my understanding of Jesus’ birth. Going home and hearing my parents’ pastor attempt to preach the same passage from the male perspective, I realized that it was not only I that had been missing out; it was the whole world that had been missing out as the church had silenced women’s voices in the pulpit for thousands of years.
By Blair Zant.
The essential ingredient to my transformation may be summed up in two words: Christian community. My peers, professors, and staff supervisors served as the Holy Spirit conduits I needed to lift words of life off the page and shape me into a servant leader. You see, Paul was not directing these words at me. Or at you. He was not directing them to a particular individual, but to the entire church. He was directing them to us. In those three years, I realized that renewal of the mind—building scriptural imagination and conforming to the will of the Holy—would require leaning on and leaning into the community of believers.
By Jasmine Rose Smothers.
After many years of struggling with my call to ordained ministry, I finally responded to the call of God in my life when I was a senior in college. Even though I had served during most of my teen years as a leader in my church, schools, and annual conference, I felt woefully out of place when it was time for me to take active leadership roles as a church staff person and in conference roles as an adult. There were many days that I begged God to release me from this call. I had a myriad of excuses: I’m young, I’m female, I’m black, I’m introverted, I’m not ready! I, like Jeremiah, kept reminding God: “but I’m just a [girl]!”
By Iwy Patel-Yatri.
The General Conference certainly evoked responses from many people: clergy and laity, men and women, even from those who are not United Methodists! As I write this article, only two months after General Conference, the full impact of the decisions is yet to be known. Therefore, I can only speculate as to what will come next. In my reflection on General Conference decisions, I feel concern; however, I choose to rely on and trust in God and move forward in Love.
By Molly Fraser.
Guaranteed full-time appointment is concurrently entering my reality, as it is on the table to be voted out. I write from the perspective of a white, thirty-five-year-old, first-year provisional member of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference. When I was commissioned last year, our conference made it clear that they did not have full-time appointments available to newly commissioned members. The tide has changed. Thus, I am grateful that upon graduation (June 2011), I look forward to a full-time appointment.
By Molly Vetter.
As I stood at the communion table, repeating the words I use most every Wednesday afternoon at our Vespers worship, one line jumped out at me, as if in full, living color, declaring that Jesus Christ “delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the spirit.” I’d heard it and spoken it so many times—but that day, it was as if I were uncovering something precious and dangerous that had been buried for centuries.