Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shepastor Highlights: Panel Discussion, “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry”

Today Shepastor continues to highlight the, WTIM - Women Together in Ministry of Greater Cleveland “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference. This week’s blog focuses upon the Panel discussion that bears the same name as the conference.

Our panelist were,

· The Reverend Marilyn Turner, Associate Executive Director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, Center for Missional Life and Leadership
· The Reverend Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, Senior Pastor, Antioch Baptist Church; Cleveland, Ohio, Newly Elected President of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
· The Reverend Dr. Valentino Lassiter, Senior Pastor, East View United Church of Christ, Shaker Heights, Ohio
· The Reverend Pat Hernandez, Director, American Baptist Women In Ministry

Each panelist was given the opportunity to respond to the questions below…

“Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry”

-Through your own observation and experiences, what factors influence how women relate to one another?

-How have historical, societal and theological influences both positively and negatively impacted women’s relationships?

-Frequently, men are blamed for oppressing and hindering women’s progress. Many women, however, have experienced oppression, hindering and lack of support from other women. What can clergywomen and clergymen do to honestly, openly and sincerely address this issue?

-What can and should the Church do to help women build and nurture healthy relationships amongst women?

What an engaging, thought provoking and heartfelt conversation we had! Each panelist shared from personal, historical and cultural experiences. Rev. Turner shared the praise report that many wonderful women have played a role in her ministerial development. However, she has also experienced the pain of being called by two different churches and then later receiving notification that the church (each one) was “not ready for a female pastor.”

Rev. Hernandez shared the experience of facing a female panel of interviewers (for a different position) who treated her coldly and scolded her as being “unprofessional” for sharing a personal experience that was significant in forming her view of ministry. Rev. Hernandez went on to unpack the implications that women are often expected (even by other women in leadership) to leave their femininity at the door if they expect to make it in a “man’s world.”

Culturally speaking, Dr. Lassiter discussed the dilemma of the African American community as men and women were demeaned in the larger society. The church became the place where they found their, “somebodiness.” African American women feeling the need to nurture, build and protect the esteem of African American males, supported male leadership and rejected any woman or women who appeared to want to usurp their positions of authority.

Dr. McMickle shared the riveting story of one of the first Episcopalian female priests, who upon serving communion to a female parishioner was bitten and spat upon with spit mingled with her own blood and told, “That’s what I think of female priests!” The parishioner faced no repercussions for her cruel act and the priest was moved to another parish. The incident, however, did not drive her out of the ministry, but made her more determined to stand for the rights of clergywomen.

Dr. McMickle further challenged us to consider the question, “How can any group that makes up approximately 70% of an institution be oppressed by that same institution?,” referring to the reality that women make up the majority of churches. All panelists and the audience agreed - as more courageous men and women determine to stand against the discriminatory behaviors of churches, inevitably, the barriers will fall down.

Conference pictures on the web…
Conference web album now available! Check out pictures below of the “Empowering and Encouraging Women In Ministry” Conference

WTIM: "Empowering and Encouraging Women In Ministry" Conference Augsut 2011

or visit and click on the web album link.

Post your responses or send them to me by email at

Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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