Tuesday, June 03, 2008

F of H Part Three -- Conversations

I love this pin. It is United Methodist, and is one of a set that commemorates 50 ears of ordination for women in the UMC. The UMC has the best church logo (the cross and flame) out there, in my opinion.

I am drawing no conclusions, I'm just reporting three conversations, for what they are worth. :-)

Conversation One, in the Pew

Clergywoman (known hereafter as CW): Hi! I'm Clergywoman. I'm from Southern State, and I'm Lutheran. Where are you from?

Me: I'm from Wisconsin.

The service began, and CW and I shared a hymnbook and enjoyed harmonizing together.
Periodically she or I looked at each other in agreement, or surprise, or admiration of a point--you know how it is when listening to a good speaker. CW listened intently, and periodically (to my surprise) said "Amen!" or "Praise God!" or so on. Lutherans of my acquaintance do not usually say "amen" as affirmation. Once she murmured, "Oh, thank you, Jesus." I was thinking she was acting more Pentecostal than I was. After the service our conversation briefly continued as we gathered our things.

CW: So what is your denomination?

Me: Assemblies of God.

CW: Oh! How wonderful that you are here! Big smile.

Me: Why, thank you. But why do you say that?

CW: I didn't know anyone but mainline people came to the F of H much.

Me: I heard about it from a blogging community, the RevGalBlogPals.

CW: I have heard of the RGBP! Tell me about them.

Me: Yada yada yada...

CW: Well, it was good to meet you. I wish more Pentecostals and "evangelicals" would come. We need to interact more and learn from one another.

Me: It was good to meet you too. And I agree with you.

CW: I was Pentecostal once. It's a long story how I became a Lutheran pastor.

Me: I wondered.

Unfortunately, there was no time to continue this conversation.

Conversation Two, in the Restaurant

Most of the time I did not sit with someone I knew, since the only people at the F of H that I knew (sort of) were cyber friends. Sadly, I rarely even saw a Rev Gal or Pal. One morning I sat by Mary, a Lutheran pastor from Minneapolis. Afterwards we went to lunch and had a great time of conversation. This is one small part.

Mary: So, are there many women pastors in the Assemblies of God?

Me: Sadly, no.

Mary: I used to pastor in Northern Town. I was the only woman in the clergy group. One of them was an AG pastor. He pastored in Different Northern Town." Slight frown. "He was the only AG pastor I ever met, till you."

Me: Something tells me it wasn't altogether pleasant?

Mary: No. He refused to acknowledge my presence in the group.

Me: Oh, I am so sorry!

Mary: He used to pointedly speak of ministers as the "men of God"--and he never missed a chance to let me know that he disapproved of my role as pastor. I was part of that group for four years, and in all that time he never spoke to me unless he had to. And I never called him on it. Others in the group did, once or twice.

Me: Oooh....

Mary: One day I had it. I said, "AG Manly Pastor, I am part of this group. You may not like it, but that's the way it is! YOU didn't call me to ministry. YOU may not approve of me. But I know GOD called me, and GOD approves of me! You don't have to like me but I expect to at least be treated with basic courtesy and respect as a sister in the Lord and a human being!"

Me: Feeling like crying. "I am so deeply sad and sorry! And HOORAY for you, Mary. I know I wouldn't have been able to stand it for four years!"

Mary: So I was surprised to see a woman AG pastor. My great grandmother was a Pentecostal woman, and a preacher, my mother said. I thought you had women pastors, but that guy made me wonder. How can he be like that and be part of a denomination that has women clergy, and has had them for many years?

Me: Ah, that is the question.

Conversation Three, On the Sidewalk

I was walking between Westminster Presbyterian and Central Lutheran. The sun was shining, it was pleasant, trees were blossoming. Two clergywomen passed me, and one commented to me about the sunshine. This led to the usual questions...where are you from, what is your denomination, etc.

Me: "I'm Assemblies of God. I pastor a rural church in Wisconsin."

Ladies 1 and 2: Surprised looks. "Oh. We are Episcopalian."

Me: "Nice to meet you, Episcopalians!"

Lady 1: "I did not know Assemblies of God people came to the F of H."

Me: "They usually don't. I noted there are a few Pentecostals, but I don't know what their denominations are. I haven't seen any AG people I know, but that doesn't mean there aren't some." (You know the drill, the moderator asks, "Any Baptists?" "Yay" from the crowd, etc. That is how I knew there were a few other Pentecostals.) Ladies 1 and 2 seemed to be expecting more, so I added with a smile (what in the WORLD possessed me to say this?) "I am having fun hanging out with the liberals."

Ladies 1 and 2: Knowing, slightly uncomfortable laughter.

Lady 1: "Are you sure you won't get in trouble when you get home and your superiors find our where you were?" (She was kidding.)

Me: "Naw. I'm just being me. I never quite fit anywhere."

Lady 1: "Well, I'll tell you a secret. I don't either. I'm one of the few Episcopal clergy who openly acknowledges that I speak in tongues."

Lady 2: "You are an Episcomatic?"

Me: LOL!


Diane M. Roth said...

wow, what great conversations you had!

Ruth said...

LOL... Reminds me of conversations you and I have had. Funny how I saw myself in each of those 3. Glad you met a lot of new people.