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Introductions are in order

March 10, 2009

If you are wondering “why” this blog and just wondering in general, “what’s up,” maybe I can answer some of the questions!

I am a woman in her 50’s, married with three 3 grown children (more on that tomorrow),  living in Washington State, responding to God’s call toward full time ministry. In the fall of 2007 I began seminary studies at George Fox Evangelical Seminary toward a Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership. I discovered you can go back to school, I do have brain cells and they’ve been stretched! It’s all good. Truthfully I love my studies. The seminary professors and staff are amazing. I have the greatest group of people in my cohort ranging in age from 24 to 56, comprised of at least eight different denominations or none (non-denominational). There are six women and thirteen men. We have developed community together as we discuss, ponder, wonder, and even press back when we see things differently. Through it all we have come to value and appreciate the uniqueness of God revealed in each one.

The Table Together is the fruit developing from a year-long special study class in an area of our choosing. As a woman who essentially grew up in the church, steeped in traditional conservative evangelical values, the decision to focus on women in ministry leadership has as much to do with “me” discovering and owning my own call to ministry as it has to do with articulating my deepening and growing conviction that our failure to affirm both men and women in ministry leadership has weakened the body of Christ and left the Church increasingly ineffectual in its witness to our risen Lord.

As I began I knew that it is important for me to grasp from a Biblical viewpoint what it is to be a woman preparing for ministry – both for myself and for other women that will join these ranks. In recent years I have become acutely aware that passions run deep concerning the Biblical basis for women in ministry leadership – including pastoral leadership. Unfortunately I have witnessed the polarizing effects from debate and assumptions.

I hope the name; The Table Together will provide a visual reference for what the kingdom of God should provide—a place, a seat at the table. As a woman of faith this has at times been challenged, for I have felt as if there was not a place at the table. In fact when I began my special study the title was, “Is there room at the table?” The question mark was intentional. For some – both men and women – it still belongs.

So to my brothers in Christ I hope you will join in and come along on the “blog” journey. Many men think it’s just a “women’s issue.” I assure it is not. It is a body of Christ issue and that involves you. Your voice is important, so please do not be silent observers. It is critical that we walk together if we are truly to be at the table together. So guys you will be encouraged to lend your voice to our discussions and journey.

To my sisters in Christ I know and understand that to venture into the realm might be difficult for some. I “get” the reluctance. Last year I was encouraged by someone I have not meant (and I have only read her blog) to stay the course. The wounds in this area can go quite deep. Christ is a compassionate healer and restorer and I hope this will be a safe place for you. We have much to offer one another as we learn, support and encourage one another.

This blog site is going to provide interaction in three main areas (but we can be flexible!):

  1. Mondays we will be studying or exploring God’s word to better understand what it says to us concerning the area of women. Here in particular we will surface some of our assumptions, cultural bias, and weight we place on certain scriptures. Because “theology” is often a part of our study of God’s word (as it should be) that will also be an aspect of our conversations. I know there are well intended questions and they are worth discussing. If you have questions, please utilize the “comment” section at the end of any post.
  2. Wednesdays are for women. As this blog develops Wednesday’s post will be women sharing their stories of faith and ministry. We will also take time to read about and learn from those that have gone before us in ministry. We have a rich Godly heritage.
  3. Fridays will be focused on reading a book together so that we might increase our Biblical understanding and leadership. First book on deck is The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight, professor of religious studies at North Park University.

If you are wondering where do I stand? The position, if you need one, is that I—Carol McLaughlin, the author of this blog, affirm Biblical equality. What does that mean? That will be an ongoing development of our discussion. To be upfront with you, it does mean that this blog will be written from the standpoint of Biblical equality:

“Biblical equality denies that there is any created or otherwise God-ordained hierarchy based solely on gender…because women and men are made equally in God’s image and likeness (Gen. 1:27), are equally fallen (Rom. 3:23), equally redeemable through Christ’s life, death and resurrection (John 3:16), equally participants in the new-covenant community(Gal. 3:28), equally heirs of God in Christ (1 Pet. 3:7), and equally able to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit for life and ministry (Acts 2:17).”[1]

I do not expect that we will always agree, in fact I hope that men and women will read and participate in this blog that have different opinions and convictions. If you have had a different viewpoint or understanding then I ask that you participate with an open mind to consider the other. My study over the past several months has further convinced me concerning the statement I quoted above, not lessened it. In fact I ask those that would disagree to consider what exceptions might reveal for us in Scriptures.

Guidelines for our mutual consideration and benefit (we use these quite effectively in our seminary discussions and I think they’ll work here too):

§ All discussions are to be of civil discourse. There might be times when we might be expressing different viewpoints or experiences. Try to use “I” statements when pursuing a constructive dialogue:

o What I hear you saying is . . .

o Here is what I’ve experienced . . .

o It would help me to know how you hear what I’m saying because I’m not sure I’m being understood.

o I understand that your view is different from mine. Here’s what I’m hearing . . .

§ Share from your own experiences

§ Please respect the opinions of others – especially when you disagree. (So to call someone an idiot isn’t going to make it through the comment moderator – me!).

§ Do not use CAPS – it is like “shouting” in an on-line forum, like this blog.

[1] Ronald W. Pierce & Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, General Editors, Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Academic, 2005], p. 13-14.

One Comment
  1. March 12, 2009 7:36 pm

    Carol, I am glad to have learned more about you. In fact, I keep realizing how similar we are. I originally wanted to get my degree in recreation but after all the confused looks and/or laughing I figured I had better pick something a little more “legit”. *grin* Ironically I threw the “legit” major out the window 2 years into college and went with Youth ministries. Although, at least people knew what that was. *wink*

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