Sunday, December 04, 2005
1955 was a momentous year. My mom was 10 years old, growing up with her preacher father and stay-at-home mother. The era was marked by women fulfilling household duties like cleaning, cooking and childrearing - all while wearing a beautiful dress with a full skirt. (At least that's what tv portrayed.) Whereas 10 years earlier, many women had been in the workplace to help with the war effort, now women were expected to care for the family and disregard any other callings in life.
Yet, in this same year, the Methodist Church (which was then the largest Protestant denomination in the US) voted to give women full clergy rights. Women had been preaching since the time of Jesus (and before). A number were very important evangelists and spiritual leaders in the Methodist church since its conception. However, they were not allowed to be ordained. It still amazes me (knowing the opposition I have faced 40-50 years later) that the majority of delegates (most of whom were men) at our General Conference actually voted to give women full clergy rights. The Spirit of God does move in mysterious, and wonderful, ways.
A book has just been published celebrating this event and the last 50 years - Courageous Spirit: Voices from Women in Ministry. It is a collection of essays, prayers, reflections and stories by women who have lived in ministry in the United Methodist Church. I am honored to say that they chose to include an essay I wrote, "I always wanted to be Julia Sugarbaker." You'll have to pick up the book to read it!
I am looking forward to the next 50 years!