Today I had the privilege of attending a Women in Ministry get-together at the home of Ruth Santana Grace, the Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. Female clergy from all over the presbytery gathered together to drink coffee, eat bagels, and simply get to know each other. When I walked into Ruth’s home my first impression was – wow, it is loud in here. Apparently, when you place more than 30 women in a house the decibel level spikes. Who knew?
Beginning my called ministry in 2013, I didn’t have to worry too much about the fact that I would be a woman in ministry. So many women had gone before me to break down the walls that were built to keep women out of the pulpit. Many of the women who gathered in Ruth’s home today owe a huge debt of gratitude to the hard work of those women. As a matter of fact, some of the women who gathered today were the ones who did that work.
Someone asked me today, “So if I remember correctly, you are the first female pastor that Thompson has ever had, right?” This is true. Out of the close to 30 pastors and associate pastors in TMPC’s history, I was the first woman to be ordained to the office of teaching elder. She continued up with a follow-up question, “How is that going? How were you received?”
It took me a second to answer her. My knee-jerk reaction was, “fine”. Which is a very lame answer to just about any question. So I continued, “Honestly, the fact that I am a woman has not really been an issue for me, at least not one that I have noticed.” This is true. In my time at Thompson, I have never felt that the fact that I am a woman had, in some way, hampered my ministry.
The power of this did not hit me until I began to write this post. How incredibly blessed am I that this is my response? So many women, including my colleagues in ministry, battle to be heard, respected, treated fairly, etc. And here I am not giving it a second thought. Now, other things have been an issue in my ministry; my age, my marital status, the fact that I do not have children, but that is a post for another day.
Today, I want take a moment to be thankful. To say thank you to the members and staff of Thompson who have welcomed me. To say thank you to the countless women who have gone before me in ministry, who paved the way, who inspired me, and who have dedicated their lives to the work of Christ. To thank God that he continues to call women and bless them with certain gifts so that they might be a blessing to others.