last month a mainline pastor from a small town outside of denver got in touch with me to see if i would be willing to come speak to their high school’s baccalaureate service in may. they were looking for a female pastor, someone who would inspire the kids & open up some doors that hadn’t been opened previously by some of the standard baccalaureate sermons/messages.
i really appreciated his enthusiasm & desire to press the envelope a little (and the date worked for jose & i to go together & have a fun night away afterward) so i said yes.
yesterday i got an email from him letting me know that unfortunately when the other pastors and leaders found out that a female pastor was speaking, they banded together to reject the idea. they said they couldn’t listen to someone they didn’t agree with and strong-armed a very conservative evangelical into the spot instead.
his email was so kind, and he was so sad that his hope got hijacked. he tried to fight the good fight and just couldn’t make it happen. i ended up talking to him on the phone just to make sure i was clear what he was really saying and didn’t misunderstand. i asked, “so, is it really just the woman pastor thing or is it about my beliefs or ?” he said that the woman thing was definitely the main issue, the deal breaker, and anything that remotely is connected to the word “emerging” was just icing on the cake.
we had a nice conversation & i really felt bad for him, really. it’s a drag when you can see a different way & have hope for what could be and tradition & power sucks everyone back under.
for me, it’s now just one less thing to do in a busy month. but, it hurts. it just does. it’s hard to not have it hurt. one of the reason is it’s not one isolated incident. it comes upon a long string of these over the years that get really tiring and discouraging.
the system is broken, my friends. it truly is. it’s so easy for people to think that we’ve come a long way but everyone needs to know how far we still have to go.
the insidious-ness of gender inequality is ugly. and deep. in the big scheme, it has nothing to do with baccalaureate speakers. it has everything to do with power & oppression & stripping women of their dignity & silencing voices that were created by God to speak, to create, to dream, to inspire, to partner, to nurture, to build, to love freely.
so, that’s why i’m a little sad this week. a little beat-up, a little burned out. a little sick to my stomach.
and very grateful that i never, ever feel this in my community or in my marriage or with those on the fringes. i am so thankful. they help me hold on to hope. men & women alongside each other as equals is a beautiful thing.