This blog has now taken on a different kind of a life of its own...

Well, I think I'm finally prepared to do this. This space is now going to become my confessional, almost, if that does not offend.

I start a journey as from today, that started a long time ago - but I'm now prepared to admit it to myself.

I'm prepared to be tested. I'm prepared to listen to objections like the following:
a)The Bible prohibits women in ministry in 1 Tim 2 and Cor 14
b) You're not suitable
c) You've got a young family
d) You're misguided

I'm hoping for affirmations:
a) The Bible does not prohibit women in ministry
b) You are suitable
c) How wonderful this will be for your young children
d) We're all called and this is how your calling will be played out

I've tried so hard to make the first set stick - but they aren't - I don't know why - I like to think God has something to do with it. Some of you will think that this is not the case, but that's okay. I rest.

The second set is so exciting, it's almost difficult to set down in black and white. It feels dangerous and delicious and wonderful to contemplate.

So we will see. I'm prepared to be vulnerable now - to invite you to witness what might be, by the world's standards, a journey to failure - the journey of a woman forging out a career for herself that wasn't to be.

From a Christian perspective - I actually have nothing to lose. Whether I work for the Church in an official capacity or not, I am still loved by God, I am still someone in a relationship with the triune God, living with Jesus as Lord. I have a very certain future in him. I will still work for the Church, his body, in what ever way I can because to this I am called and this is what I am made for and that can be in a multitude of roles. I trust God to show me the way.

So journey with me if you will.

Update 23rd - I need to rewrite this - 'iron sharpens iron' again. I'm asking the wrong questions. I sound like a politician - I'm skewing things - it ain't so darn black and white Rach - try again


a)People interpret the Bible to prohibit women in 'ordained' ministry. Ahhh!

b)Nicky Gumbel preached yesterday at our college - he spoke of a requirement in leaders of capability, integrity and relationship with God .....(?)

c) Can I balance ministry responsibilities, study and family?

Wow - maybe I have to even amend again after some point - these are revisions for today.


a)The fact that people interpret the Bible to prohibit women in 'ordained' ministry, is something I'm going to have to get over - I'm getting there but I'm not yet there.

b)Nicky Gumbel preached yesterday at our college - he spoke of a requirement in leaders of capability, integrity and relationship with God - Ordained ministry is a job and a Bishops Advisory Panel will decide on whether I tick those boxes and I so hope that I do. I'm scared of what it would feel like to get rejected!

c) I am hoping that God helps me to balance ministry responsibilities, study and family because this worries me.


Tim Goodbody said...

Hi Rachel, go for it!

If your vocations officer hits you with the Timothy passage,
1) I'd be very surprised
2) They ought to be a bit more positive!
it seems to me you have read around the subject very well and will not need to worry about playing your counter argument out, whether on a BAP or wherever.

My kids didn't mind when mum and dad were curates, but its a different kettle of fish when I'm the vicar and mum is the associate minister; your whole life is in the goldfish bowl, so do take time to ensure yours will think its wonderful.
Don't forget, Awesome has an ordinands section

blessings for a new leg of the journey

David Rudel said...

Dear Rachel,

I don't know you personally, so will not presume to come down on either side of fence, but certainly any genuine interest in doing God's will can hardly be the wrong choice on an individual-by-individual basis.

For that reason, I very much wish to affirm your willingness to step out on a path that is certainly not the "easy" one.

It sounds like you are trying to be honest with yourself and the world, so that can hardly be discouraged.


Karen said...

Journeying with you, Rachel - albeit in a cyber kind of way...

DaveW said...

My thoughts

a)The Bible prohibits women in ministry in 1 Tim 2 and Cor 14

Actually the opposite. The Bible recognises and celebrates women in ministry. Romans 16 being a good example.

b) You're not suitable

Tosh. Have some faith in the system within your church to test and evaluate this. Plus remember that nobody is suitable, we are all sinners and nothing is possible without God's grace.

c) You've got a young family

Yes, what has that got to do with anything? If we want the church to include and welcome younger people and families then having younger people with families in ministry sounds like a good idea.

Of course it is also quite ok for you to have more children in the future, nothing about the calling to and practice of this form of ministry denies that.

d) You're misguided

Aren't we all. How can people who don't actually do the interviews, mark the papers, watch your presentations, hear your testimony etc etc make a comment.

a) The Bible does not prohibit women in ministry

Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6, Galatians 3:28, Deborah, Priscilla, Junia, Phoebe, Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis.

b) You are suitable

Who am I to judge? There is a tree in my eye.

c) How wonderful this will be for your young children

Can't promise that, but we may have to do many things in our discipleship that are hard for us and our families.

d) We're all called and this is how your calling will be played out


DaveW said...

Oh and just one more thing.

I have found it helpful to submit to the authority of the Church (an unusual thing for a Methodist to say).

That includes the authority of the church to recognise, develop and affirm my call to ministry and to let that override my own concerns.

If I can't let the church have authority over me in that area then how am I going to let it have authority in others.

So the church has decided to ordain women, the church has decided to ordain people with young families. The church has decided to train you. So be it. No longer your decision but that of the whole church - rest in that authority.

Anyone who has trouble with it should take it up with that authority who has made the decision, not with you.

Rachel said...

Hi Tim - yep I've created in my imagination some kind of mythical figure who loves God, is Christ-like and yet is cross for me for interpreting the bible so that it allows for 'ordained'women. This person has been created by a coagulation of all the blogs, reading, Christians and theologians that I have read who are very right-wing on the whole ministry thing and women. It is as if I have personified my anger into some sort of monster. I really need to slay the monster and move on before it starts to really pollute my thinking.

Hi Dave W - thank you - you respond to my questions encouragingly. I had been asking myself the wrong quesions, in actual fact, and in the syntax of my first question to myself I am actually responding like an unsubtle polititian to the monster that I have created - see above.

Got to release those monsters. Prayer ministry in progress. God through Nicky Gumbel at college last night helped me to cast off part of that monster, the claws are loosening but I'm still left with many scars and there's still an uncomfortable grip.

Thank you Karen - God be with you in your journey

Dave W - submitting to the authority of the Church - this is more helpful than you could possibly imagine - I've felt another claw loosen its grip.

jody said...

Hey Rach, this is such good news!

it is a minefield, and you will go backwards and forwards a number of times over whether you are going insane :-) but that is all normal, i can assure you.

i have just been to milton/cambridge today to look at many houses that we might end up in, so am knackered - and the children had a good day, but sometimes they cry, they will miss their friends, i will miss mine. but it's a god adventure, what a ride.......

Darren said...

Sounds like an interesting journey! Just my usual pedantic self, who is saying women CAN'T do ministry. For the very texts mentioned I'm well in favour and we have lots of women doing key roles, including leadership/teaching roles. The prohibitive texts are to quite a narrow ministry over Elder/Overseer. I'm a bit anxious about language of "interpretation". You'd get pretty fed up with me if I started "interpreting" your words to mean something else. Not to say I think I've totally nailed the minutiae of those texts and how they work out in 2009 in detail... but they mean something for us today.

But you are right, you are called to serve, in whatever capacity. Nobody (male or female) can presume a post. Mark 10:45, to be 1st we become last.

DavidW - do you really mean that about the authority of the Church? If Synod voted against the existence of God for e.g. OK, bit extreme, but it makes the point. Also how about the decades that people lobbied for the ordination of women and the 'Church' said no, but the door was knocked and knocked on until she said yes. Does the questioning only go 1 way?

DaveW said...


Good challenge.

First, re the prohibitive texts being about a narrow ministry. As with much of the Church today I do not understand these texts as being prohibitive of women in general.

Secondly, I think there is a misunderstanding about the role of interpretation. I would agree these texts have meaning for us today. But my understanding is that all meaning from all texts comes through an interpretive process. There is no such thing as un-interpreted meaning.

You are right to challenge me on the authority of the church because as you suggest it is not simplistic and there are ongoing issues today (blessing of civil partnerships for example).

Firstly, I think there is truth in the simple affirmation that I feel is appropriate to Rachel - the Church is testing your call and when people (including yourself) challenge that it is appropriate to rely on the authority of the Church - we see this in the Methodist Ordination where the whole congregation shouts out that the ordinands are worthy.

As regards other issues. I think there is a need for submission with challenge. For example you might not support infant baptism, however, as Methodist Minister you will need to submit to the churches position for those seeking baptism. However, at the same time you should be able to challenge the churches position without harming those under your care.

How submission vs challenge works out will depend on the person and the issue. I doubt generalisations are helpful.

Rachel said...

Darren - 'The prohibitive texts are to quite a narrow ministry over Elder/Overseer.' so are you saying that in your opinion these texts prohibit women in oversight?

Dave W'How submission vs challenge works out will depend on the person and the issue.'

Indeed - it does depend on the person, at first I was left very confused and hurt by interpretations of passages which Christians use to support an argument prohibiting female incumbents and bishops. Part of my own liberation came in realising that two integrities exist. I had been made to feel that my thoughts had no integrity but were the product of socialisation. It was even suggested to me that perhaps the C of E had been swayed by social mores so when it came to looking at the scriptures themselves, in context and at the level of translation I was able to feel that 'my integrity' had more integrity because it is scriptural, I now have to continue to work on finding the integrity of the opposite view. At first I was just angry that people couldn't see it my way - how sinful! I'm overcoming this with a lot of divine help and pleas for God's grace to give me more humility. I'm a work in progress. But you're right everyone handles these things differently. I know women who have had counselling to help them with this one, I know women who have put away their bibles because of this one, I know of women who have written refutations of the key passages and posted them under the car windscreens of cars in church carparks who teach that women can not preach and teach! It can lead to a lot of problems.


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions