and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.[a]
The LORD’s Answer
2 Then the LORD replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald[b] may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it[c] will certainly come
and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:1-3, NIV
Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer’s famous phrase, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired…” could appropriately be used by clergywomen in 2013. I’ve thought about the struggles of Mrs. Hamer frequently over recent days. As I have reflected upon her triumphant and painful story as a female civil rights activist, it grieved me also to think about the disparities and inequalities women clergy face, causing them spiritual, psychological and even physical pain.
While we may not have lost our jobs, been given a hysterectomy without our permission during a surgical procedure, been hauled off to jail and beaten so severely that our kidneys were damaged (all experiences of Mrs. Hamer as she led protests for the right for African Americans to vote – see her powerful biography by visiting, http://www.biography.com/people/fannie-lou-hamer-205625?page=1 ), clergy women are still having to fight for equity and access into the pastorate. Someone reading this is saying, “there is no comparison…” I respectfully beg to differ…
During the Equity and Access for Women Clergy Conference, it amazed me to listen to the striking similarities between clergywomen who literally, 30 years ago could not get a “call” to a solo pastorate or had to accept small, dying, economically depressed congregations and take on a second job to make a living wage and clergy women in 2013 saying the same thing!
I am encouraged by the great strides that have been made…women are beginning to be called to more stable congregations…women are being licensed and ordained, women are beginning to earn higher salaries than before.
I am discouraged by the snail’s pace of progress and lethargy that has seemingly developed around the issue of equity and access for women clergy. It discourages me when I hear women giving up on the idea of becoming a senior/solo pastor simply because they don’t see doors opening wider for us. I have been equally discouraged by denominations that “support” women clergy with words and maybe even printed materials, but do little to seriously take steps to assist women clergy in the process of receiving a living wage.
As a result of the lack of true support, women clergy are suffering. Their bodies are worn and run down from wearing a million hats to serve struggling congregations. Their minds’ are taxed because out of necessity, they take on additional work to make ends meet. Their hearts are broken because despite the “anointing,” excellent credentials, broad experience and willing hearts, they are constantly passed over and or made to play “2nd fiddle.” Their spirits are strained because they contort their gifts and calling to fit into other areas of ministry and “make do” serving where ever they can with heavy hearts – never able to live out their true calling.
I am encouraged because of the recent developments with the Equity and Access for Women Clergy Conference. My prayer is that the five “Activist Groups” (see last week's Shepastor)which have emerged will, by God’s grace, “Make the Vision Plain” and break open the stained glass ceilings that still exists. Truly we are sick and tired of being sick and tired!
I encourage you to read two additional blogs reviewing the “Equity and Access for Women Clergy” Conference held last week at Wake Forest University by Rev. Dr. Jann Aldredge Clanton, http://jannaldredgeclanton.com/blog/ and Rev. Dr. Eileen Campbell Reed, http://eileencampbellreed.org/blog/2013/11/02/ordinary-time-xiii-4/
While we all experience discouragement and weariness over the struggle for worthy causes, may we never forget that our hope and our help is in Christ Jesus, our Lord! May we be reminded of the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 126:5-6,
5They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
May our tears, bearing “precious seed” create great rejoicing as we reap the harvest for our labor that truly is not in vain!
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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,