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Why not women? This is the question we are asking this weekend. I would like to suggest a follow-up question: Why are we still asking this question? Early in my college experience, when I was trying on churches like jeans or shoes, I attended a college-age class at an area church. There I was asked another series of questions, the same ones you hear in college-age Sunday school classes every fall: “What’s your name, where are you from, and what do you want to be?” I said, “Jenny Patterson, Jacksonville, Florida, youth minister.” The teacher, the associate minister at that church, said to me, “You want to be a youth minister, in this denomination?” And laughed. That was years ago, and if we are still asking this question, then it is still a laughing matter. Which, in my opinion, is no laughing matter. Read more
When we met with the committee for the first time, we were nervous. This meeting was the first step for my husband Jeff, who had sensed God calling him to go to seminary and become a pastor. After the meeting, the committee would either recommend him to come under their care as he went through seminary, or they would recommend that he pursue something else. Read more
The choice was simple: it was time to get a new stereo in my car. My classic rock ‘n’ roll eight track tapes—yes, this was a number of years ago—worked well except for one issue: the music was coming out of the speakers on only one side of the car. That would be like listening to Crosby and Stills, but tuning out Nash and Young. Of course it was time for a change; who would choose to live with an unbalanced speaker system? Read more
The recently published book, Streams Run Uphill: Conversations with Young Clergywomen of Color, poignantly opens up a whole new world for those of us who still see through the eyes of the dominant culture. The title’s Clergywomen of Color gives a small taste of the experiences these women have faced and continue to face. Yet these women also share much with their Caucasian sisters, such as growing up without seeing a woman preach, encountering shock when announcing they are pastors, loneliness, disrespect by parishioners, internalizing negative perceptions, and disentangling various contradictions. Read more
Tim Krueger
I sat uncomfortably rehearsing how I’d ask the question that had to be asked. I knew it would initiate a painful conversation, but we couldn’t ignore it forever. I was not wrong. It became clear in that meeting that yes, our pastoral candidate was a staunch complementarian. Our church, with its egalitarian tradition, governing documents, and leadership structure, was poised to hire a pastor firmly opposed to the leadership of women. Read more
“Having a woman in church leadership is just not biblical.” To say I was shocked would be an understatement; my jaw may have actually dropped. These words were addressed to our church board (half of which are female) from a long-time member of our congregation. I could have understood if it was a newcomer, but this man and his family had been attending our church for over five years. How did he miss it? And maybe even more important, how did I, the lead pastor, miss it? Read more
I was twenty years old when God called me to pastoral ministry. At the time I was a theatre major hoping to build a career as a stage actress. My backup plan was stage management, not ministry. Though raised by supportive parents, I grew up in a denomination that had a very narrow view of women’s roles in the church and the world. I saw few women leading in any capacity at church and had never seen a female pastor in action. So when God called me, there were moments of panic and weeks of bafflement when I asked, “Who am I to do this work?” I had enough trust in God to say yes to ministry but it took several years, two theological degrees, successful ministry experience, and tons of affirmation before I could say yes to myself as a pastor and leader in the church. Read more
When two of Jesus’ disciples suggested they should be given places of honor with him,  Jesus presented a different model for living. It is one of servanthood and submission to God. Not of seeking after positions of power, not exercising authority, but of becoming a slave for the gospel. Read more
Veteran US preacher Iverna Tompkins, well known for her tongue-in-cheek humor, once famously said: “For a woman to be accepted as a preacher and church leader, she has to be twice as good as a man. Fortunately, that isn’t difficult.” Read more
In the academic world, the female evangelical is often absent. This absence is not due merely to lack of numbers, but also to a system that makes “male” the default for promotions, raises, leadership, and work style. Though I write from the academy, many of the same patterns and structures exist in any work setting. Because the historical structure of the workforce is well-established, turning the tide must be conscious, deliberate, and systematic. Here I offer five practical suggestions to help elevate women to positions of influence and leadership. Read more

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