Friday, July 24, 2009
It may not be in the newspaper, but it's all over facebook.
What's the conversation?
Jimmy Carter's decision to leave his denomination, the Southern Baptist Church, and his home church because of their stance on women in ministry. To read more click here
This is not a small sacrifice on his part. It meant that he walked away from the denomination he spent his life serving, as well as the church where he served faithfully for decades, building deep friendships along the way.
I am grateful for Jimmy's sacrifice.
In a world where much of the American Evangelical Church tells me that it is not okay for me to be leading a church because of their doctrinal position, it is a gift to have a major leader of our country and evangelicalism rise up and say, "I will not tolerate this any longer."
It's not easy being a female pastor. I don't have a lot of women to look to as role models. I don't have a lot of other female pastors to hang out with at conferences or in my denomination, even though the Evangelical Covenant Church actively supports women in ministry. see www.covchurch.org
(One benefit at conferences, however, is that the bathroom lines are non-existent!)
But, it's my life.
When Jesus called me to serve him in ministry; I knew I had to take the step of obedience. I knew that to turn my back on what he was asking me to do was to was too big an act of disobedience, and I would rather please him than please the world.
Amazingly, when Jesus called me to go to seminary, (actually it was more like he dumped me there with a shovel), I didn't know how I felt about women in ministry. I hadn't ever studied the issue, it wasn't preached from the pulpit, I didn't know very many women pastors, so I went to school rather uninformed on the issue.
I was forced to study the issue, however, when a good friend of ours had my parents, sister and ourselves over for dinner. Right after the prayer, he made this off the wall comment: "Women pastors, they make me want to throw up."
Finally, my Dad spoke up and said, "Well, you know, that is what Tamara is going to seminary to study."
So, this gracious man wrote me a letter asking me to share with him my theological position so he could understand.
So, I started studying. (Good to be ahead of the curve.)
I studied all the typical passages, but it was this one that made my spirit leap up and say, "See, there is room for both genders to lead the church."
Pentecost. Peter stands up to preach and the first words out of his mouth are from Joel 2:
"I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.
In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike."
Jesus showed me that day that the New Testament Church had different rules than the Old Testament. The New Testament Church was for inclusion of everyone: men and women, slaves and free, young and old, Jew and Gentile.
This meant that what was previously reserved for Jewish men was now open to a passionate young Gentile woman who loved Jesus with all her heart and was willing to do anything to serve him, and to go anywhere to follow him.
That woman is me. I have followed the Lord for 20 years in ministry and have even boldly gone into new territory of Missio Lux.
It is a gift to me and many others like me that Jimmy Carter stood by his faith convictions and sacrificed his comfort for truth.
May his tribe increase.