Great-Grandma Williams

By Bishop Gary Mueller

Ada L. Williams was born in 1876 and, according to family lore, was related to Betsy Ross, Roger Williams (founder of Rhode Island), and family members who owned land in “New Amsterdam” on which the World Trade Center was later built. She lived a long and healthy life, dying at age 97 in 1973.

I knew Ada L. Williams as Great-Grandma, although her more formal title certainly was Great-Grandmother. She was my mother’s grandmother and I loved her dearly, even though we spent only a couple of weeks together each year until her death when I was twenty. Indeed, my heart is still filled with fond memories of summer vacations with her at the shore in Jersey, the ducks on the pond in her backyard in Fair Bank, and the wonderful breakfasts she would fix every single day.

So exactly why did my Great-Grandma Williams make such a difference in my life? Quite simply, she was present in exactly the way I needed as I made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, took my first baby steps of living as a person of faith and wrestled with a call to ministry that, much to my chagrin, would not leave me alone.

All of this may sound rather routine and exactly the sort of thing you might expect to happen. Not so with me. For all intents and purposes, I grew up in an unchurched family. We would attend church sporadically, especially when we moved to a new community, which happened frequently. My parents, although very loving and supportive of my own faith quest, did little to nurture me into faith.

That’s exactly the breach into which my great-grandmother stepped.

This ordinary woman played an extraordinary role in my life during the formative first two-and-a-half years of my Christian journey. Not because she was physically present, but because she kept up a steady stream of correspondence that literally guided me, metaphorically walked alongside me, and sometimes dragged me as I started down the path of a journey I continue still today.

Sadly, I have been unable to locate those letters, of which there were probably 25 in all. So while I cannot remember the specifics, the letters from Great-Grandma remain with me, like many a dream I have had. I may not remember details or fully understand the dream when I awaken, but it is so real that I literally can feel it as it burrows deeply into my soul and lives there, often for years.

What I remember vividly about that correspondence—even if I can’t remember anything specific—is that letter after letter was filled with grace, encouragement, and profound wisdom about God. Ironically, if not surprisingly, I also remember that her letters were utterly transparent about her own struggles, questions, and shortcomings as she struggled to live her Christian faith. Perhaps it was her honesty that made her faith all the more powerful to me. When all is said and done, however, what continues to shape me is that my Great-Grandma loved me enough to invest in me by sharing God’s love, her love, and her heart.

I believe that angels are God’s messengers. And while my great-grandmother was a mentor, guide, and friend, she was more than that. She was an angel God sent to me for exactly the season I needed in exactly the ways I needed. And, when all is said and done, that is exactly what I will cherish—now, and for all eternity.

Bishop Gary Mueller

 

Bishop Gary E. Mueller was elected an episcopal leader of the United Methodist Church on July 19, 2012, and is assigned to lead the Arkansas Area. Bishop Mueller’s passion is leading spiritual revival that results in vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who then make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world.

Week 2: Sermon Resources for Women’s History Month

For Women’s History Month 2015, GCSRW is pleased to offer a series of sermon preparation notes and resources for the month of March. Written by Rev. Hyemin Na and following the lectionary texts for March, the sermon preparation notes and resources for the third Sunday of March will be posted to our blog on March 8th. PDFs of the sermon notes are also available here.


WEEK 2: March 8, 2015

Lectionary Texts

Living According to God’s Vision

Living according to God’s vision of things is not always going to be pretty. In the Johannine retelling, Jesus, visiting the Temple during the Passover season, creates a public scene. Jesus’ demonstration makes a theological point about God’s sovereignty (“Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”) in the face of an oppressive Empire. In her commentary on this passage, Marilyn Salmon provides the helpful political and social context of this scene. The Temple was a complex and sophisticated nexus of religious leadership, worship and sacred rituals, a place of economic exchange and symbolism that had been annexed to serve the purposes—financial and otherwise—of the Roman Empire. A theological point, in this case, of God’s sovereignty over the sacred space of the Temple is a political point—God, not Caesar, has the ultimate say.

Jesus shoos the animals and the merchants from the place, overturns tables, and pours out the coins. As Salmon suggests, this was most certainly received, and noted by the Roman Empire, as defiance to its power. Jesus’ actions would have been assessed as foolish and insolent. And we know that the powers of the world reward such resistance with crosses.

Pursuing God’s vision will place disciples at odds with prevailing notions of respectability, in conflict with convention. God’s vision for what is just and good will stir action that goes against “etiquette” as defined by the powers-that-be.

The realities of sexism and gender essentialism (the belief that there are certain, inherent traits tied to a gender—an insidious form of stereotyping) are felt by women who exercise leadership, especially with the kind of boldness and courage displayed by Jesus. Women are often punished with violence in words and deeds, and with particular zeal, when they act “out of line” with standards of “femininity” set in place by patriarchy. Unfortunately, misinterpretations of Scripture have been used to glorify a certain type of female discipleship—one done in docility, subservience, and a saccharine politeness.

Discipleship Takes Grit

Discipleship requires us to advocate for the oppressed, and to take a stance against those in power who abuse their authority. That might involve “making a scene.” And those in places of power and privilege (in society, and alas, in the Church) will do its best to put disciples—particularly women, ethnic minorities, immigrants, those in the LGBTAI communities—back “where they belong.”

Shame is the first weapon of choice in the breaking of spirits and the cultivation of silence and passivity. Epithets, ugliness, and bitter words await those who dare to walk counter-stream. We are all aware of the names especially reserved to denigrate women who “do not know their place,” who speak too loudly or too persistently. Further, righteous indignation and anger, outrage at injustice, will be distorted as “unbecoming” or being “hyper-sensitive.”

As a note of caution, Andy Alexis-Baker, reminds us that this Gospel text has historically been misused to justify Christian violence. John Wesley was careful to observe in his notes to the New Testament: “it does not appear that [Jesus] struck even [the animals]; and much less, any of the men.”

Together, We Remember

We remember Rosa Parks who made a scene on the bus when she refused to give up her seat. I remember that a woman from a congregation I served, a professor at a local university, took to task the school administration when they neglected to fix a broken elevator. She was aware that a broken elevator means students and staff who were abled differently cannot participate in courses or meetings. No one else spoke up, so she did. I remember two women, active leaders in a different congregation, who were concerned about the environmental and health impact of an oil refinery that set up shop in their small town. They mobilized the members of the town and took political action for the sake of the environment and the children who would be most vulnerable to the chemicals that seeped into the drinking water.

I wonder what names these unrelenting women would have been called by those who felt threatened, annoyed, or offended by their assertiveness. We, however, honor them with names that ring with truth—beloved, daughters of God, ushers of the Kingdom. They are disciples of Jesus Christ.

Sources Consulted

Alexis-Baker, Andy. “Violence, Nonviolence and the Temple Incident in John 2:13-15.” Biblical Interpretation 20, no. 1-2 (2012): 73-96.

Bartlett, David Lyon and Taylor, Barbara Brown. Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. Vol. 2, Louisville: WJK Press, 2008.

Salmon, Marilyn. “Commentary on John 2:13-22.” www.workingpreacher.org.

 

For another instance of women “making a scene” for justice look into The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.


Hyemin Na, a cradle Methodist, is an ordained Elder in the Northern-Illinois Conference and is currently a Ph.D. student in Homiletics at Emory University. She is a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Harvard (A.B.). She is interested in exploring how preaching is done faithfully and well in our postmodern society, with an ear on the ground for the voices of religious “nones,” and an eye out for visual culture. She makes her home in a suburb of Atlanta with a couple of old time prophets: Daniel, a fellow UMC Elder and spouse, and Elijah, of her womb.

Week 1: Sermon Resources for Women’s History Month

For Women’s History Month 2015, GCSRW is pleased to offer a series of sermon preparation notes and resources for the month of March. Written by Rev. Hyemin Na and following the lectionary texts for March, the sermon preparation notes and resources for the second Sunday of March will be posted to our blog on March 1st. PDFs of the sermon notes are also available here.


WEEK 1: March 1, 2015

Lectionary Texts

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 | Psalm 22:23-31 (UMH 752) | Romans 4:13-25 | Mark 8:31-38

Introduction

The richness of meanings we find in the Lenten color of purple—especially the calling to mind the experience and perspectives of those who are rendered abject among us—provides a powerful lens to understanding the Gospel text for this Sunday. In A Feminist Companion to Mark, Joanna Dewey cautions the reader from approaching Jesus’ admonition to “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (NRSV, v 34), without giving proper attention to the cultural, historical, and narrative context. Modern and Western readings of this iconic statement have often interpreted Jesus’ emphasis on discipleship as “a glorification of suffering and an encouragement to become a victim: one is to deny oneself, sacrifice oneself, wipe out any sense of self, and to embrace the cross, that is suffering in general” (23). Dewey acknowledges that too many women “failed to develop her own identity and strengths and has embraced or endured suffering that could be alleviated because she has come to believe that such a way of life is pleasing to God and an imitation of Christ” (23). To simply read this text as a valorization of suffering and victimization is a gross misreading. This text defines faithful discipleship as aligned with the realities of God’s Kingdom, even in the face of persecution from those in power. Ultimately, disciples are encouraged to seek life—true life—as defined by Jesus.

A Lenten call to repentence involves turning away from destruction of self, and towards life in Christ.Christian churches once made a common practice of instructing women to return to an abusive husbands (by clergy, no less!), and often thus to her death, because suffering was understood as a God-sanctioned way to “deny themselves and carry their cross”! This counsel still happens today, but a better interpretation directs these women to seek safety, counseling, help, possibly a restraining order, and communities of support and love. The “cross” for abused women to bear would have been the path toward a sense of self defined by God’s love and building up a new life free of abuse. A Lenten practice of “self-denial,” for an abused woman, for example, might involve the denial of lies and a claiming of her worth, value, dignity and giftedness as a beloved and most cherished child of God. The Lenten call to “repentance”—which from the Greek means to turn away from a formerly held belief, or to change one’s mind about something—would involve turning away from destruction of self, and toward life.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth is a powerful example of how women can live faithfully as a disciple of Christ. Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in Ulster County, New York, around 1797. When she was around nine years old, she was sold to another slaveholder, and away from her family, for $100 at an auction. In her adulthood, as a free woman, Truth worked tirelessly for almost 40 years until her death as an evangelist and social reformer. She traveled all around the North, East, and Midwest preaching and giving lectures on the abolition of slavery, women’s rights, temperance, and after the Civil War, for the general welfare of black communities as the freed slaves transitioned into a new way of life. Despite voices denouncing her and her work, from fellow Christians at that, Truth understood Jesus’ calling to discipleship correctly, and lived it faithfully. She refused to “bear the cross” of racism, sexism, slavery, or other modes of oppression—as she was told to by much of society and the authorities of the Church. Instead, she listened to God and took up the cross of courage to preach the gospel. Sojourner Truth was able to denounce the lies of the world and worked for liberation from oppression, even in the face of persecution.

In the purple season of Lent, may the Holy Spirit guide us, our congregations, into true forms of faithful discipleship – discipleship that liberates, brings more love, shines light in places of darkness, and pulses with life. May we take up our crosses of courage and deny the power of oppression to silence the gospel.

Sources Consulted

Dewey, Joanna. “‘Let Them Renounce Themselves and Take up Their Cross': A Feminist Reading of Mark 8.34 in Mark’s Social and Narrative World.” In A Feminist Companion to Mark, edited by Amy-Jill and Blickenstaff Levine, Marianne, 261 pages: The Pilgrim Press, 2001.

The brief introduction to Sojourner Truth is from the following biography:
Murphy, Larry G. Sojourner Truth: A Biography. Greenwood Biographies. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2011.

Resources for those interested in womanist theology

Townes, Emilie Maureen. A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering. The Bishop Henry Mcneal Turner Studies in North American Black Religion.

Williams, Delores S. Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk.


Hyemin Na, a cradle Methodist, is an ordained Elder in the Northern-Illinois Conference and is currently a Ph.D. student in Homiletics at Emory University. She is a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Harvard (A.B.). She is interested in exploring how preaching is done faithfully and well in our postmodern society, with an ear on the ground for the voices of religious “nones,” and an eye out for visual culture. She makes her home in a suburb of Atlanta with a couple of old time prophets: Daniel, a fellow UMC Elder and spouse, and Elijah, of her womb.

Introduction: Sermon Resources for Women’s History Month

For Women’s History Month 2015, GCSRW is pleased to offer a series of sermon preparation notes and resources for the month of March. Written by Rev. Hyemin Na and following the lectionary texts for March, the sermon preparation notes and resources for the first Sunday of March will be posted to our blog on February 22nd. PDFs of the sermon notes are also available here.


Introduction

In this season of Lent, many worship spaces and visuals are marked by purple. In the Church, the color purple has traditionally been used to symbolize two emphases of the Lenten season. First, purple symbolizes mourning and penitence, in response to the pain and suffering of Jesus in the passion narrative. Second, purple, which in the Roman Empire was a color worn by the Emperor and others in places of authority, symbolizes the royalty of Jesus, and his ultimate victory over death and evil.

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 1.33.34 PMCoincidentally, the color purple connects us to the thematic lens of this Lenten commentary series—celebrating the experiences of women, in honor of Women’s History Month. Along with white and green, purple was used to represent the cause of the suffragettes beginning in the early 20th CT, and was incorporated as a visual marker in the long struggle against sexism.

In her collection of essays entitled, “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens,” writer Alice Walker reframed women’s struggle against sexism through the imagery of color. Introducing the term “womanist,” a word anchored in the linguistic tradition of the black community, Walker opened the door to articulating the differing experiences and levels of oppression existing among women. Here is an excerpt of Walker’s definition:

1. FROM WOMANISH. (Opp. of “girlish,” i.e., frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.) A black feminist or feminist of color. From the black folk expression of mothers to female children, “You acting womanish,” i.e., like a woman. Usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered “good” for one. Interested in grown-up doings. Acting grown up. Being grown up. Interchangeable with another black folk expression: “You trying to be grown.” Responsible. In charge. Serious.

Walker ends the definition of “womanist” with: “Womanist is to feminist as purple to lavender.”

This distinction in the hues of purple brings to light the additional dimensions of racism and socio- economic marginalization experienced by black women. Embracing Walker’s term, black female theologians have challenged our understanding of theology by speaking of their experiences as those who have experienced sexism from black men, racism from white women, and suffered the systematic socio-economic and political consequences of such oppression. Purple has come to symbolize the anguish and struggles of black women, and broadly, all those who seek to survive and thrive in the midst of multiple modes of oppression. The tradition of womanist theology seeks the holistic flourishing of all people, especially those who are most vulnerable of all gender identities. As such, the color purple simultaneously symbolizes the strength and creativity with which those from the underside of society seek life.

This month’s sermon notes will all arise from the wider theme of hearing God’s word from the experiences of women’s stories and proclaiming the call to live out the gospel.

Hyemin Na, a cradle Methodist, is an ordained Elder in the Northern-Illinois Conference and is currently a Ph.D. student in Homiletics at Emory University. She is a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Harvard (A.B.). She is interested in exploring how preaching is done faithfully and well in our postmodern society, with an ear on the ground for the voices of religious “nones,” and an eye out for visual culture. She makes her home in a suburb of Atlanta with a couple of old time prophets: Daniel, a fellow UMC Elder and spouse, and Elijah, of her womb.

Does Your Husband…?

By Bev Marshall-Goodell

It always starts out innocent enough. “Our last pastor’s wife was the (unpaid) church secretary. Does your husband know how to use a computer?”

“No,” is my patient reply, “he doesn’t even have email.”

“Our last pastor’s wife played the piano for worship every Sunday. Does your husband play the piano?”

“No,” I continue, “but he does like to beat drum sticks on an oatmeal box.”

How many times have I been through this in new congregation? “No, my husband cannot direct the choir or teach Bible study or head up the church bazaar. No, he won’t be staffing the church nursery or taking charge of the youth group. No, he won’t be redecorating the bulletin boards or keeping the kitchen stocked with coffee for Sunday morning fellowship.”

Maybe single pastors never get this, but for some reason, many churches expect the pastor’s spouse to serve the church as part of the pastor’s salary. Perhaps there was a time when every pastor’s wife had the time and energy and inclination (though I seriously doubt it) to be unpaid servants of the church, but if there ever was such a time, that time has most certainly come and gone.

When the bishop appoints me to a church, my husband will go with me, but no church should expect him to an unpaid assistant who picks up all the responsibilities I am not able to take on. He will be a faithful church member who attends worship and study groups and an occasional church bazaar, but he does not wish to be in charge of anything at the church.

Women have been ordained as pastors in the Methodist tradition for more than fifty years, yet for some reason, churches do no know what to do with a pastor’s husband. It is bad enough when the problem occurs in a small rural church. It is even worse when it occurs in a large suburban church (experienced with clergy couples) that could not understand how their female pastor could be married to anyone except another pastor.

Unfortunately, our worst experience with came at a gathering for clergy spouses hosted by the bishop’s wife during annual conference. The event was announced well in advance, and clergy spouses were required to preregister in order to attend. The invitation announced that the event would include a meal, entertainment and special gifts for all the spouses.

When my husband arrived for the event, he was surprised to receive a gift bag filled with women’s cosmetics! He was not the only man in attendance, and after some quick scrambling, the host did manage to put together some more gender appropriate gift bags, but the damage had already been done. Now my husband jokingly introduces himself as “the pastor’s wife.”

I am not sure what kind of paradigm shift it will take for the United Methodist Church to live into the reality that women are pastors and men can be clergy spouses. Until that time comes, my husband will be skipping the clergy spouse gatherings and simply trying to be accepted as another member of a local congregation.

marshall-goodellBev Marshall-Goodell worked at The University of Iowa for 19 years conducting research, teaching and directing the Women in Science and Engineering Program before accepting a call to ordained ministry in 1998. She received her M.Div. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2001, and served at Aroma Park UMC in Aroma Park, Ill,  and Ankeny First UMC in Ankeny, Iowa, before being appointed to Grace UMC in Tiffin, Iowa, in 2004.

Why don’t more of our largest churches have women as senior pastors?

Rev. Jeremy Smith at the Hacking Christianity blog looks again at the gender of the pastors leading the largest United Methodist churches in the United States (by attendance) and dicsovers that “of the 177 United Methodist churches that have over 1,000 people on an average Sunday morning, only four have female senior pastors . . .”

He says, “Every church has to overcome a systemic level of bias away from the straight white male that has been the ‘traditional’ pastoral image. Every. Church. Our connectional system is better equipped than call systems to take on these issues head-on, but as Dr. (Karen) Oliveto said, it is when our connectional systems become more like call systems that such biases become more manifest. It takes a willingness by the Bishop and the local church leadership to appoint someone transformative–a willingness that is not always present.”

Click here to read the entire post (and the comments).

What do you think are the reasons for this underrepresentation of women in a denomination that prides itself on having more women in leadership than other large denominations??

 

The Intern’s Corner: The Age Issue (or Living in the Middle of the Sandwich)

By Pat Trask, GCSRW Seminary Intern

I am a Baby Boomer. I didn’t ask to be born during that generation. It just happened. My mother was the youngest of a large family that spanned 18 years. She and my father, the oldest of two sons, raised my brothers and I with values more like our oldest aunt than like our classmates’ families. Just at the time when I fit into the paradigm (minus the gender aspect) of parish ministry candidate, the paradigm seems to be shifting to a younger, sexier model.

If you tap into blogs, you might be noticing that ministry is becoming the domain of the under-35 crowd. While I think it is good to recruit and encourage people at that stage of life to enter ministry, does the language of this discussion push a generation of people to the side to clear the way for the young messiahs? I was 35 once. I was married, raised a child, and had a satisfying career. I come to set-apart ministry later in life, and am now working toward graduation and eventual ordination as an elder in The United Methodist Church. I didn’t ask for the call to come at this stage of my life. It just happened. I could probably argue that the call came when I was 17, or 30, or a number of other years, and that I resisted the call. I don’t think that matters as much as the fact that I finally responded.

I haven’t taken a lot of time to consider what the term really means, but I was part of the sandwich generation for a short time. My parents were aging and I was raising a child. I now think of myself as part of the ‘open faced sandwich generation’ perhaps—both of my parents died in the last two years. Or maybe I am not part of a familial sandwich at all—as I mentioned, my ‘child’ is a beautiful young woman. There’s still parenting, but not so much raising.

I find that I am enwrapped, due to my age, in a new kind of sandwich. On the one hand are the aging pastors. These are almost all Baby Boomers, too, like I am. Regardless of our denomination, we can all see a face and recite a name or two when we think of these experienced pastors. On the other hand are the young people entering ministry, who are often held up by bishops and others as the ‘future’ of our church or the ‘now’ generation. Depending on who you listen to on this topic, the young people are the people who will save our local churches, our denomination, our country, and our world from the decay of religion and faith communities over time. It is unfortunate that we place so much pressure on a single generation to solve all the problems of our collective past.

In the middle of this are ‘my people’—the “generation Jones”, according to William J. Schroer. Let’s just say, for conversations’ sake, that we are born between 1960 and 1979. If you do the math, you might see the logic behind the statement that says we are the parents of the young people who will be saving not only the rest of us that remain on the assembly line floor after the wave of retirements coming along, but also will save the generation of children that they will bring into this world.

What’s special about this generation in the middle—‘my people’? I think there is a lot to be said about us. First of all, those of us who are entering ministry at our ‘age’ come to the table with a lot of experience. It is difficult to identify what this experience is, but some of the things that this includes, although not an exhaustive list, is that we probably have a good idea on 1) how to wake up and get to work; 2) how to balance multiple priorities; 3) how to deal with difficult people; 4) how to deal with disappointment; 5) how to deal with loss; 6) how to comprehend difficult material; and 7) how to love God ‘with all our heart, with all our being, with all our strength’. (Common English Bible) This means we can go from seminary to congregational crisis much faster. (This is not an invitation to test us on this theory. I have done no scientific testing, after all.)

Second of all, we have a lot of courage. Some of us step away from a fair amount of security, including prestige within our profession or incomes that will sustain our families or familiar routines, to begin a journey that is not always friendly.  Case in point: the two sides of the sandwich.

Third, but certainly not the last but I will end with this, we tend to be women, though not all of us are. Brothers, I know you are out there, too. In my own experience, and from anecdotal evidence, I can say that the call to ministry has probably come to many of us in this age group more than once. God is a persistent leader, after all. We have been busy baking cookies, washing clothes, organizing excursions, supporting (and being) titans of industry, loving our families, holding hands with people who were hurting, pulling water out of the well and quietly buying bread for the feast for so long that it has become a natural and familiar lifestyle. But God has continued to speak to our hearts and call us out to be courageous and speak our truth in a new way, and we finally have lifted our heads to answer the call, only to find we are too often dis-affirmed by the very institution that has been the paradigm of Christianity in our lives—the church.

How should we respond to this rapidly changing world where our generation in particular is often invisible and ignored? We are no less affected by comments such as mentioned in Emmy Kegler’s recent post: “Early on, Bishop Barrow notes that he will soon be retiring the “All-Star team” from his synod,” referring to the wave of Baby Boomers who will be retiring from the ministry in the near future. (Note: Bishop Barrow is in the ELCA, but this phenomenon is not limited to the Lutheran experience.) We in the middle generation can compare the Biblical messages with the institutional realities as well as our children (the 35-and-unders) can—after all, many of us were around in the 1960s when packet network systems, such as ARPANET (think: Internet), were developed. Many of us were alive in 1963, when Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space, and in 1968, when women were first able to be ordained in the newly formed United Methodist Church. Most of us were alive in 1973, when Roe v. Wade was argued in the Supreme Court of the United States. We were all alive in 1980, when The United Methodist Church consecrated its first woman bishop, Marjorie Matthews. We were all alive in 1993, when Madeline Albright became America’s first woman Secretary of State. We are not the ones who made these other achievements possible, but they became possible for the first time during our youth and young adulthood.

Those of us in this middle position are uniquely situated to celebrate the idea of the 35-and-younger becoming clergy, because that is how it used to be in the faith communities of our youth. People (men, as it happens, then), were born and raised in the church and groomed to be leaders. The youthful vibrancy of those men, along with a strong and healthy faith community, kept the church vital. Another view from this middle position is that all people should be celebrated who seek to serve God through set-apart ministry and who have or could attain the skills to do so, regardless of age, disability, race/color, gender, or social status. Just as Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, we need to mimic that in this important work by not ignoring entire sections of our faith communities in order to lift up others.

pat trask for web

Pat Trask is a former lawyer and a second-year student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  She is working this year as GCSRW’s seminary intern.