Junia and I
Let’s get one thing straight at the beginning. I am not a feminist. That is to say that I am not someone actively involved in an organized movement to promote the rights of women. This doesn’t stem from a lack of concern about the rights of women but rather a belief that the rights of all individuals should have equal value in any society or culture. The word feminist carries some baggage that I’m not ready to embrace. I’d call myself a humanist, someone concerned about the value of all humanity, but that word has also been appropriated. See the note above regarding baggage.
But I am concerned. As the mother of two adult daughters, and as a seminary professor, I wonder what kind of hope I can hold out to my daughters and to my students for a world in which gender in not the measure of competence and potential in ministry. I hear from female colleagues who feel that they must accommodate themselves to a largely male world within the church; a patriarchy that tends to metaphorically pat women on the head and say “of course you want to do this, and you should”, while at the same time limiting the possibilities in which women can serve. I watch as female students struggle to find ministry settings in which to serve, and listen to male students defend complimentarian positions without any sense that the other half of the room is hearing this as a personal rebuke. And all this makes me believe that Junia and I need a voice in the world.
But what kind of voice? Not a strident voice that demands. Nor a submissive voice that is self-subjugating. But rather an honest voice that recognizes the unique blessings and challenges of ministry for women and serves to encourage those living with the call.
And so, Junia and I begins. An attempt to offer my own frank experiences as a woman in parish and educational ministry. My observations about the worlds in which I function, and an invitation to others to consider their own relationship to Junia and I.