Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The turning of the worm?

Good morning God,
Tell me, did you ever intend gender to be such a problem? When you created us, did you really think it would ensure a just and equal society if half of the people were treated as 'lesser mortals' than the other half? I ask because I've reached the point where I am past angry at the injustice - I am disgusted.

I recently learned that one of the most significant consequences of the 'Regrouping for mission' policy (aka mapping a way forward) is to decimate the number of women in leadership positions in our Church. Women simply don't apply for the Superintendency of these mega-circuits, especially not when it is a separated appointment. This means that in just a few short years we are in danger of setting back the equality of women's ministry in the Church by decades.

Sorry God - but I have to accept you made me, and you did so surely knowing that women are generally undervalued and disregarded in your Church (or more frequently - patronised and dismissed). Yes, I know that some women allow this to happen, but many more don't feel they have a choice - the Church has for too long proclaimed submissive behaviour to be the ideal female model.

Here's the bottom line God - I didn't choose to be female - and I didn't choose my vocation - you made me, you called me - as you have hundreds of other women - to serve in your Church, this community you gather and order.

And I am disgusted that so far we have achieved so little in the way of change -  with this powerful combination of gender and calling.

It's time to ramp things up - and I don't mean incrementally.

We wont change the culture of the Church by focus groups or positive discrimination - we will only change the culture of gender injustice that is warping our faith by changing the underlying generative structures. So, no,  I dont want another gender justice committee, I dont want more research, I dont want more gender awareness training.
I, for my part, am not content to say - but things are so much better than they used to be - I can do the theology and the math  of the number of women involved in the life of our Church - but more importantly:

I am not content to be grateful for the past, You called me to live for the future and I want more.

  1. I want Church leadership at every level that models the best Trinitarian practice; which does not try and invest in one man, the sole responsibility for vision or  'management, oversight and governance' but which invests in a truly equal and complementary team ministry of Lay, Diaconal and Presbyteral members, women and men working together.
  2. I want an end to unrepresentative governance structures at the highest level.
  3. I want an end to the unthinking super-efficient sexist business language (eg management, oversight, governance, risk aversion, clusters, focus groups, etc etc) which disempowers (to say nothing of disenchants) so many of our members - lay and ordained.
  4. I want an end to the dominance of business and finance over our corporate spiritual life. You cannot serve two Gods...
  5. I want the Church to consult with its members rather than paid business consultants - on the way in which it fulfills its calling, and on the 'well-being' of its members
  6. I want a forum where it is possible for all members to participate in discussion and considered REFLECTION on  matters before the Church,  where people are not made to feel either guilty or disloyal if they disagree with the 'stated' opinion.
  7. I want changes to standing orders which properly reflect the fact that there is more than one way of being church.
  8. I want circuit ministry - ie an end to 'sectional' ministry rubber stamped by a circuit meeting. 
  9. I want a Deacon in every circuit - not as a ministerial substitute - but as someone essential to the Spiritual health of a circuit.
  10. I want circuit plans that are designed to facilitate the means of grace, not just ensure that someone is taking a service at every church in the Circuit that week.
  11. I want collegial accountability in ministry which is borne out of, and reflects, the ordinal not some consultancy firm's annual appraisal scheme.
  12. I want an open and inclusive Church which welcomes people to become disciples of Christ and servants of your Church regardless of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, ability or sexuality
  13. I want a Church that is confident enough in its own calling to not have to sell its soul or its belief in Gender equality in order to work ecumenically on the things that really matter - like evangelism and social justice.
  14. I do not want the Church to be so slavishly TIED to the priorities of a previous generation that it becomes impossible to hear and respond to what the Spirit is saying to this generation.
Ok God - that's my neck on the line -
It's a tall list - but it's possible, some of it is already on the way - all it takes is an end to membership apathy and a heart for radical change.


  1. I suppose it was extremely foreseeable that the move to bigger circuits would have this effect when you stop to think about it - but I don't suppose anybody did.
    A good list. thankyou

  2. Why can't the move to bigger circuits mean LESS 'management / oversight...' etc and more use of the gifts of all for all? And why are women deselecting themselves from the mega circuits?

  3. I'm so disconnected from the Connexion now - mostly because of my disgust at the management-speak nonsense that the hierarchy so rejoice in using, but also because of the inefficiency of it all - that I didn't even realise that the super-Circuits the Methodist Church is creating required separated Superintendents. Which ones are they, then?
    Where I am, if they were to join up the three "local" Circuits into one super Circuit, it would be so big that we would be able to declare UDI and apply to the UN for emergent nation status!