I am a seventies baby. I was born in 1970 and I heard, read and experienced a lot around civil rights, women’s rights, feminism, glass ceilings, etc. I was raised in a middle class community where my family was clearly the minority. My elementary and high schools were comprised of kids from my community, predominately white. Middle school was different because students were bused or brought in from outside of my community to desegregate the school. That’s how much of a minority we were.
Then I left home. I attended a four-year, private liberal arts college south of the Mason Dixon Line where I was again in the minority. It was an eye-opening experience. If that wasn’t enough eventually I landed a job in the public sector in the early 1990s. My eye-opening experience went to a new level of amazement. Civil rights, women’s rights, feminism and glass ceilings looked very different from the inside looking out.
Early in my career I finally acted on my call to ministry. Having been raised in one of the most affluent black churches in Maryland, I was surrounded by African American women in leadership positions within the church and the denomination. I was spiritually nurtured in a supportive environment that encouraged me to be socially conscious. Unfortunately that experience skewed my view of what ministry would be like for me outside of that environment.
I don’t recall being warned that sometimes when I would stand to the podium to speak some men and women would leave the room/sanctuary. I wasn’t warned that some men would be hostile toward me and tell me how I was condemned to hell because I was out of order. Still today in 2015 the voices of some men and sadly women also echoed in many church vestibules that women don’t belong in leadership positions. Echoing that women weren’t called by God to be or do anything other than teach Sunday school, man the nursery, or nurture their culinary skills in the kitchen. God forbid they be ordained.
My courage and strength to move forward in ministry has come from the following five lessons I learned from the Feminist I found in the Book of Genesis – God:
- Image is everything – humankind was created in God’s image and likeness. God, the Creator of the Universe.
- Created Equal – God created male and female. God created us as a team to work together. We may have varying roles and responsibilities but it’s about learning to work together. Both are equally important to get the job done.
- No “them” and “us” – God blessed them both. God didn’t just bless the man or just bless the woman. The man is no more blessed, equipped, or able than the woman. Just as the woman is no more blessed, equipped, or able than the man.
- The rule of multiplication – God commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. It’s recorded in the Bible that everything reproduced after its own kind. Humankind is supposed to multiply themselves. We are to make more equals, not create division. I recreate individuals that are equals.
- Dominion not domination – God gave humankind authority over the animals and the ground but God did not give humankind authority over each other. That’s liberating for me because we weren’t created to rule, as it were, over one another.
I’m encouraged today after reading the article “How Some Male Adventist Pastors Are Standing With Unordained Women” by Adelle M. Banks, a reporter with the Religion News Service. There is a change afoot. Several male Pastors within the Seventh – day Adventist church are relinquishing their ordination credentials in support of the women in their denomination that are not allowed to be ordained. Their hope is that the denomination will change its position. We offer prayerful support to them.
I’m grateful for my Pastor, a man, who is an avid supporter of women in ordained ministry. He stands up to the men and women that occasionally approach him after service admonishing him to change his stance. My Pastor firmly reminds them that it’s thoroughly recorded in Scripture how women were divinely used to make impact, nurture possibilities and rule nations.
These five life lessons are still serving me today. It’s ironic that the Creator-God demonstrated to me the lessons of feminism. I’m overjoyed that I was created female; a woman. I’m over the moon that I was created an African American. Most importantly, I’m grateful I was created equal. For anybody to treat me or anyone for that matter, as anything less than an equal is a contradiction or a freak of nature. We weren’t created that way.