I was being interviewed this morning about the SC Primary and the changing landscape of religious and political affiliations in SC when the reporter asked me a question that I’ve been thinking on since this morning, “Do you think you could do more to bridge the gap between conservatives and progressives?” He was referring to the religious landscape and the gulf that exists between conservatives and progressives in the baptist tradition. When I answered him, I stopped myself from hedging my answers with all the qualifiers I usually use:
Well, I could, but as a woman pastor, it’s hard to get a meeting much less a return phone call from other pastors seeing as they don’t believe I am within God’s will.
Well, I’ve been working with community organizations instead of going through local churches you know because I’m a woman pastor and not all places support and affirm women pastors.
Well, actually, I’m bivocational, so I have another whole job that I have to do in order to make ends meet.
His question brought to light the fact that I often look at my role as a woman pastor as a liability rather than an asset, which only perpetuates the belief that there is something wrong with being a woman pastor. Rather than standing up confident of my calling, I’ve been hiding away in communities that support me. How will people began to understand that there are women pastors and preachers if we keep hiding away in the safety of welcoming and affirming congregations and gatherings?
His question also reminded me there is always more we can be doing as pastors, as leaders, and as followers of Christ toward the ministry of reconciliation. We can be putting ourselves out there more. We can be braver and riskier. We can be demonstrating what it means to invite those who disagree with us to the table rather than continuing to talk to people who agree with us.
Could you be doing more?
Yes, and with God’s help, I will.