On Sunday morning, my favourite parishioner preached for the first time on a Sunday. She has spoken to groups before, children, pensioners, people in between, but she has never preached on a Sunday, in a church building, to men and women, using a lectern.
Some people that I love will be joyful at the opportunity she had to speak on Sunday, some others (who I also love but disagree with) will be upset that a woman preached on a Sunday. I suspect that most people in church aren't all that bothered either way and that most people outside the church must wonder what we are like if we are even still having this conversation.
It has been interesting on my sabbatical to visit churches that have been recommended to me as places doing a good job. Every minister I have spoken to has been gracious and generous with their time and thoughts. I've asked each one if women preach at their church. Each has said that they do (although the overwhelming majority of preachers are men) and that it's not an issue for them as a church. It's of particular interest to me as we are in the middle of discussions as a church about this very thing. We've been studying the Scriptures as a leadership and trying to work out what they say because, like it or not, neither side of the debate can say that it is straight forward. It's not altogether clear. I, and most of the church leadership, are happy to welcome women preachers. This is most definitely not a pragmatic decision but based on what we believe the Bible allows. Being the kind of people we aspire to be (i.e. family), we'll need to sit down as a church and discuss it before we make a final decision. There may well be future blogs on this.
Back to Sunday. She did a terrific job and I am left thinking that there must be something that I can do better than her. If she's this good the first time... More seriously, I also wonder why some people would be happier to have a less able/gifted (male) teacher in the pulpit on a Sunday. Pragmatism isn't the reason for our decision but you do have to consider that the church is missing out where it is not using gifted women in this area of ministry.
I'm a middle aged man, a Baptist Minister, and more to the point an evangelical Christian. I have a great family, the best wife, an interest in music (mainly the sort of things that a middle aged man should like) and media in general. I like my sport and hardly ever play any. Will watch Test matches very happily and have a love of football, Exeter City are my club of choice.