I then needed to discuss conflict within a Christian context and breathed deeply before confessing my behaviour last Spring. I still have some mixed feelings about what I did. I responded to a local sermon by a Church of England minister in which he taught his congregation that women should not serve as ordained ministers. Of course, he was preaching on 1 Timothy 2 11-15. He quoted Wayne Grudem(!) and talked about how women are from Venus and Men are from Mars which has, of course, since been refuted with a book called 'The Myth of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus' . I felt that I had to do something to let the women of that congregation know that this is an interpretation of scripture and is not what everyone believes and that indeed the Church of England accepts two integrities on this secondary issue and most parishes accept women incumbents and have of course ordained women since the nineties. I felt a kind of righteous anger on behalf of what I imagined to be many oppressed women within that congregation who might be having their callings so challenged. I wrote a refutation of 1 Timothy 2: 11-15 and I posted it on the windscreens of the cars in the church carpark so that the other point of view could be accessed, much the same way as I often return to my car to find a pizza promotion flapping under my windscreen. (My words might have been pleasant or uncomfortable spiritual food, depending on your viewpoint).
So I confessed. I knew I should share this. The Church has to accept me for who I am and I am spurred into action by what I consider injustice. I do not sit on the fence on issues. I am not a renegade or a rebel, really rather conventional, but I do have passion for certain issues and certainly for the gospel but also for the oppressed.
I will encounter a diversity of opinions forever on the issue of women in ministry until the next life, as I am experiencing now in my latest interaction with David Ould who serves under Peter Jensen in Sydney diocese - that has been an interesting conversation (See The Shack review).
If they accept me in July (BAP), I am also anticipating that I will come across people who can not accept my ministry because I am a woman, indeed they will not recognise me and might refuse the bread and wine Jesus offers them through me. I am slowly understanding that I will live with this. I aim to try really hard to see the integrity of their point of view, to be gracious and understanding, to recognise in the 'other' my brother (or sister) in Christ.
It has been painful and I learnt a lot about myself as I interacted with conservative teaching and then reacted to it. I did apologise for my behaviour and it would have been great, if instead, I had spoken face-to-face with this minister as I did with the minister of the sister church, who was very gracious and decided with me to agree to disagree. I had a friendship with this minister and his family and realise that because this was missing with the minister of the church whose cars I littered, I had no foundation upon which to enter into debate.
Everything is best tackled from the bedrock of relationship. I know that now. I also see that relationships between human beings are very fragile things. They have to be invested in. They have to be acknowledged as fragile. Just like we bring presuppositions to our study of scripture, we bring our baggage and our presuppositions into our relationships. People are so precious, made in the image of God, but so flawed.
My mum, my incumbent and my DDO have been very supportive as I have reflected on my behaviour. I think today, after a year, I was finally able to let this burden go, set it down at the cross and move on. My DDO said 'there's nothing quite like confession' and she's right. I think I understood why it is important to many Catholics to confess their weaknesses to the priest as well as God. We have to be accountable to each other.
I will always feel passionate about women in ministry, whether I become one or not. In fact, I am and always will be a woman in ministry and if those Bishops' advisers in July do not recognise my calling, I will never fail to encourage other women to go forward courageously, in confidence, that they too should take our glorious gospel out into the world and kindle it into fires in people's hearts - men, women and children, inside the Church and outside the Church.
Listen to 'Stand in the