One day, some years ago, I sat in the office of an official of my denomination. I had come, a recently graduated woman hoping to be a minister, to discuss that very thing. He was a good man, a kind and courteous man. He also was not supportive of women in ministry. I did not know this. In those days I had no idea just how few women clergy were part of the Assemblies of God, nor that many of our leaders were not exactly enthusiastic supporters of our excellent position paper titled "The Role of Women in Ministry"--that is if they had actually read it. I have found that the majority of our rank-and-file clergy have not. I'm not sure about those in higher levels of leadership. (I rejoice to say that our new General Superintendent, George Wood, is an outspoken proponent of full participation of women in the life of the church. I LOVE that guy!)
This particular official assured me that plenty of opportunities for ministry would be available to me as a pastor's wife. We had a long conversation. I was relatively young and quite naive, and I was most decidedly neither confident nor assertive. I took his advice to be the best pastor's wife I could be, and to support my husband in his ministry.
It worked, after a fashion, for a while. I loved people, taught Bible studies, counseled women, led the choir, and so on. But I was unhappy on some sort of deep level and I finally realized that I was not called to simply support my minister-husband (though I gladly did and I still do). It was as I'd thought in the beginning; I too was called to be a minister. I mean a "professional" one, for lack of a better term.
By this time we were in a different area of the country. When I worked up the courage to approach another "official" I was warmly encouraged. And when I passed the first credentials exam with 100% I rejoiced and counted it a sign from above!
It has been a long journey, this ministry path, and there have been many twists and turns and some major disappointments--and a lot of those questions I mentioed a day or so ago. I'm still living it out, still unsure about many things, still trying to get it right, still sometimes very disheartened about the pervasive prejudice I see towards women in ministry.
But today I am remembering and thanking God for one woman professor who believed in and encouraged me, for my husband who not only encouraged but PUSHED me to be what I was called to be, for the encouragement of some of our leaders here in Wisconsin, and for the people who have enriched my life--professors, fellow pastors, parishioners and friends both in "real life" and in cyberspace.
Thank you, God, for encouragers in my life. May I always be one for others.
UPDATE: Those of you who read Questing Parson's blog will have heard of Ginger. Whether or not you are a QP reader, I highly recommend THIS post.
The Parson is an encourager, and I love him for it!