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Published Date: March 9, 2013

Published Date: March 9, 2013

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The Parsonage: Hey, Are You In a Cult?

This week, the CBE Scroll features a series called “The Parsonage,” written by CBE Intern Krista Wilson, who is currently a student at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. In it, she writes about her experiences living with a group of women who have felt God’s call to minister in the church. Enjoy!

On moving into the Parsonage I was given a gift: a ring. The ring is symbolic. Two Celtic symbols of the Trinity tipped on their sides, the bottom two points at the very center, touching. We all have one on our hands, some more tarnished than others, worn by daily life and the shaking of hands, slipping on gloves, sipping out of coffee mugs; the metal metamorphosing from meeting new palms,  or chipping from clinking against porcelain surfaces.

Being gifted this ring I was warned, only half-jokingly, “People might think you’re in a cult.”

Living with five other women in a house nicknamed “the Parsonage,” I have learned to respond to various assumptions. Being a “cult” has yet to come up, but if someone were to ask about the ring winding around my finger, I might have something to say about it.

What is significant about this piece of metal is not solely the twisting arches of the Trinity sign. Naturally, faith is an integral part of daily life in the Parsonage. We pray, we praise, and hey— we even preach. But why this ring is unique is that the two symbols of the Trinity meet in the middle, rather than overlap.

Our belief in the Trinity rests on the idea that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are not hierarchical, but all equal. This is not to say that equality means that qualities are uniform, just that these differences do not delegate dominion to one part of the Trinity as opposed to another.

This symbol of equality serves as a reflection of our house’s community. All the women that I live with come from various backgrounds and have a host of gifts. While one of my roommates serves as a pastoral intern at her church with a calm, quiet demeanor, another can be heard belting worship from the top floor to the basement. Even my gifts as an English undergraduate student vary greatly from my roommate who started and now co-pastors a church. Though eight years of life experience are between us, she treats me as her equal.

Beyond the walls of the Parsonage, we view our relationships with others on a foundation of equality. We invite our neighbors in out of love, regardless of histories and current hardships. We seek to serve those in our community, and maybe if we are lucky, we will be invited into their lives to shepherd them as well.

We do not view our gender as limiting this ability. Being a woman is certainly part of who we are. However, this does not dictate the gifts God grants us. If we are called to serve, we serve. If we are called to teach, we teach. If we are called to lead, we lead. And we do so knowing that gender does not inhibit our faithfulness to God’s calling. Rather, we hold to Galatians 3:28 that, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

If someone were to ask me about the ring on my finger, these are the thoughts that I would like to verbalize. Yet when speaking, I am often a woman of few words. So I would probably keep to a singular (and lengthy) sentence, trying to avoid any cult-like vocabulary: “We view one another like we view the Trinity—we love the Trinity as a whole and we also love the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for each unique facet that makes up the equal, and miraculous, Trinity.”

Three women smiling at the camera, each is holding a present.

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