Thursday, 3 June 2010

My First Blog--Ever
This is my first blog--ever. I've been reluctant to start blogging, knowing my words might draw fire.

I'm uncomfortable with being a target; my life is complicated enough as it is. I don't like being the center of controversy. I especially don't like risking stereotypical, derogatory labels conveniently applied by passionate people who disagree with my stance on hot-button issues.

As a woman minister I like being perceived as talented, competent, spiritually mature, friendly, cooperative, approachable, trustworthy, compassionate, easy-going, lighthearted,...the list goes on. Words like feminist, control-freak, rigid, controversial, man-hater, troublemaker, hard-driving, and other far-less-polite terms are labels I'd like to avoid.

For the past few years I've regularly written columns--mostly about worship and church music ministry--for Connections, our church newsletter (articles accessed under "staff" at My goal for those columns has been to be informative, inspirational, and pastoral. Those columns are tailored specifically for our current congregation as I've gently steering through controversial waters about worship practices and music ministry issues one-at-a-time, trying to build community and morale within our very diverse—and decidedly opinionated—congregation.

For my Connections columns there has been no urgent need to address issues about women or women in ministry, because this congregation came to the conclusion decades ago that gender was not to be a barrier to full inclusion in the life of the church. For fifteen years now I've thrived while serving God and this church as Music/Worship Pastor. I've seen several senior pastors and staff members come and go. Currently--except for our Senior Pastor--our entire pastoral staff team just happens to be all female.

In such an oasis of acceptance (including issues other than gender), it's sometimes easy to forget that ours is a highly unusual church, especially among Baptist churches, both conservative and moderate. But step outside our doors and BAM! It frequently smacks you in the face!

Some of us—pastoral staff and a few savvy church members—are aware of the bias that's so prevalent in churches elsewhere. But when average members of our church return from a worship service or wedding at another Baptist church, they incredulously report what they heard and/or saw take place in regards to women. And first-time visitors to our church often comment (for good or bad) that they are astounded by what they see and hear--especially if it's a communion service, since nearly half our current deacon body is female.

For about thirty-five years SBC and CBF churches have graciously employed me full-time (part-time while I was in seminary) as their Minister of Music—against all odds, when you consider the prevailing climate against women ministers through the years.

However, full-time—or even part-time--employment by Baptist churches has often been denied to my "sisters in ministry." So many have felt the pain of open rejection or at best only partial, limited acceptance in churches. All of this thwarts God's calling upon their lives to full-time ministry in the local church. Since the early 80's I've felt that it was a part of my ministerial calling to be an advocate for women, especially those called to professional ministry.

So, I've started this blog. I'm blogging for a broader audience than my current church family, although I have no guarantee that anyone will be interested in what I have to say. Articles posted on this blog sight will be "edgier" than my Connections columns.

Most of my posts will deal with women's equality, women in ministry, and especially gender-inclusive language issues. I've had articles published through the years about women in ministry and gender-inclusion issues, but I've never dealt publicly with language issues in the church and beyond. Even today all of these issues are alive and well in churches everywhere, especially in Baptist circles.

I'm expecting that most conservatives will resist everything I have to say; even many moderates will resist my attempts to clean up the sexist language that still prevails in churches, just because it's "inconvenient," or they feel like I'm "shoving the issue down their throats."

In recent years I've come to believe that gender-inclusive language is foundational for women (outside and inside the church) to experience full acceptance in church and society. Total elimination of sexist language will undoubtedly never happen in my lifetime, but that doesn't preclude my efforts to raise awareness of and sensitivity to this important issue.

Language gives shape to our thought. Thought precedes action. The gospel message of inclusion can never adequately be delivered in the vehicle of non-inclusive language. We must be intentional about raising awareness of and facilitating change in the language of the church.

This is why I'm blogging. This is why I'm risking controversy. Join me on my journey....

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