Thursday, April 27, 2006

Suddenly I'm Visible

It was a strange district council for me.

It was good. (That is not the strange part.) The business went smoothly. The district is moving in a good direction. The music was skillfull and uplifting. The preaching and times of prayer were encouraging. The ordination service was a highlight, as always, and it was good to see a young woman I know receiving her "license to preach" (the middle level of ministerial credentials). Then I attended a nice little gathering for the alumni of my alma mater.

Someone introduced my husband as his sister's pastor. Dear Husband corrected him, of course, but this only happened one time.

The strange part was that suddenly I was...well...I was visible. I don't know how to explain what I mean, and I do not mean to be disparaging or critical of years when I was not. It is simply that I grew accustomed to being mostly not spoken to, except by friends. I do not mean that people were intentioally doing this. It was more like being invisible. I've been in this district for 21 years, and this has always been the case, more or less.

At one of my first councils a pastor from a neighboring town walked up to my husband and me, and we both greeted him. Pointedly ignoring me, he said to my husband (who is a chaplain now but was pastoring at that time), "I hear that you let her preach. What are you thinking? Aren't you afraid of what might happen?" We, a bit stunned, thought he must be joking, and my husband replied in that vein. I don't remember what he said, but the other pastor looked daggers at him, spun oh his heel and stalked away. We looked at each other in shocked silence.

That was, thankfully, the only time something like that happened at a disrict council, and it was a long time ago. Mostly I just was just not noticed much. This year, all that changed. Suddenly, people seem to see me.

Everyone smiled at me, as well as at my husband. People spoke to me and called me by name. People asked about how things are at my church. Several people who I did not know seemed to know me (now that was strange). A well-known official who used to avoid eye contact (I don't know why) now stops and chats with me and is genuinely interested in what I am saying. He asked about something we had spoken about several months ago, and was encouraging and complimentary.

What has changed? This is a good thing, but honestly, I found it a little bewildering, even though it was good. I don't know what is happening.

Is it about me? Is it about the women ministers in our fellowship? That is my hope.


JWD said...

What you are writing about here is fascinating. I have no doubt that you are on to something. It is so good to notice these things. I wonder how 'credentialling' plays a part in becoming visible. And what women there remained invisible.

Really good stuff. Thanks for writing about it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it was the 'be nice to Dorcas...or else' emails. ;)


Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Well, I have been "credentialed" since 1984...and this change has been a bit gradual, starting about two years ago, but very remarkable this time. (It is true that I was only ordained three years ago, but I don't know if that makes much difference than when I was licnesed -- many years ago. Long story why it took me so long :-) )Anyway, I have really been pondering this, and asking God about it!

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Questing Parson said...

I think I have an idea of what's happened over the last few years with all you "rev gals."

The poet said it best:

He drew a circle
and shut me out,
a heretic, rebel,
a thing to flout.
But love and I
had the wit to win.
We drew a circle
and we took him in.

net said...

Praise God!

Anonymous said...

Edwin Markham poetry in a blog comment? I think I like this questing parson person!

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Me too!