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Thursday, July 05, 2007
  Women in Ministry
A conversation I had yesterday, with a woman in ministry, allows me to compensate for the title of the post which shall not be named (lower down). Since Hannah (not her real name) is not an NZ Baptist, she should be unidentifiable - sadly if she were an NZ Baptist minister she would be instantly recognisable as they are SO few in number :(

Before training as a pastor, Hannah was a leader in another profession. There, her talents, ideas and guidance were welcomed. Now she is a pastor, and in the one place where "who you are" should not matter - "in Christ" - she finds that being a woman matters more than the qualities she can offer. She finds the ministry to which God called her an uphill struggle, because of the attitudes of others.

People say that this issue, of the roles of women and men in church, will "take a generation or two" (just as slavery did). They may well be right.

However, when would you date the beginnings of a movement to allow women free and full exercise of any ministry in the church to which God calls them? Among British Baptists the issue was a live one in the early 60s. We are more than a generation on from there. From when would you date the beginnings of a movement to ensure that our image of God is not distorted through exclusive or excessive use of male imagery and language? I know it was a live issue when I began a PhD on The Image of God and Parental Images in 1977. At 30 years that makes about "a generation".

But Hannah's experience shows, like that of the (all too few) other women who have followed God's call to ministry in Evangelical contexts, that the issues are far from resolved. Our colloquium on God and Gender (at Carey in Auckland from 12-13th July) and the public evening dialogue that accompanies it still have a role to play. Most of the draft papers for the colloquium were in on time, I hope to finish my draft today... If you live near Auckland do come to Carey Baptist College at 7pm on 12th to listen and share in this dialogue on women, men, God, and the Church.

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