Adj. Pertaining to complementarianism and egalitarianism.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reflecting on My First Sunday Ever With a Woman Leading

I've been attending a small Episcopal church in my area lately. This Sunday's service was led by a deacon (which is what they call a person who has graduated from the Episcopal seminary program---they serve as a deacon for a year or two, and then are ordained as a priest. Correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm very new to everything in the Anglican communion). The deacon was a woman.

I do not remember a time when I did not know that "women weren't allowed to be pastors." The church I grew up in was a conservative fundamentalist "Bible church," closely resembling Calvinist-slanting Baptist flavor, if I had to describe it. Women were allowed to be active, but only so much. For example, we had an amazing worship leader who was a woman, clearly gifted and called for the task...but on Sunday mornings, she stood off to one side, still obviously leading, and a man stood at the main microphone, singing slightly off-key, so as to keep God pleased. Women are not allowed to lead men, not even when singing.

You would think that spending the total of my thirty-three years in that kind of environment, that a woman leading a congregation would be something I would have a hard time with (or at least, REALLY notice, like, maybe stare incredulously at for awhile instead of focusing on the responsive reading). I was surprised at what actually happened. Because what actually happened was that I forgot all about it, and so did my kids---if they even noticed at all. It was only after the service, talking to my friend on the phone, that I really thought about the fact that this was the first time I've ever been in a service led by a woman.

She was obviously called to do what she was doing, much like the music leader of my childhood. It just felt right to have her there. There was nothing to stare at---she was obviously gifted and responding to her position felt completely normal. It would have felt silly to have a man standing up there as a figure head, to keep God happy, while she spoke and while she led the Lord's Supper---just as it always felt odd to have an "un-called" man up front singing, off-rhythm and off-key, while the woman beside him was clearly leading and clearly supposed to be.