I’m on my way to Annual Conference this week. Yes, I know, it seems all I do these days is attend these conferences. Annual Conference this month, General Conference last month. I am going to be gone for worship this Sunday, but you will have a better preacher than you have when I’m here. Richard Pimentel will be sharing some Father’s Day reflections. We are so blessed to have Richard and his wonderful (and big) family in our church. When the Pimentels are sick, 11 am worship attendance drops 30%.
I just have a few thoughts on the changes I’ve witnessed over a few years of attending Annual Conference. It used to be that women clergy were few and far between. It was 1956 (the year after I was born) that General Conference first voted to allow women to be ordained. Before that we were kind of like the Catholics. Our clergy were all male.
I remember the resistance to women clergy not that many years ago. Churches would say, “We agree that women should be clergy. Just don’t send us one.”
The last time General Conference met in Portland (1976) was the first year any of the voting clergy delegates were women.
When I attend the Clergy Session in Salem Thursday morning, 41% of the clergy will be women. More than half of our new clergy have been women for some time now. Our Board of Ordained Ministry is chaired by a woman. Both of our voting delegates at General Conference this year were women. Our new district superintendent, replacing Kim Fields, will be a woman. Three of the four district superintendents in our conference now are women. Thank God for women in ministry!
I love this quote from John Ortberg:
In our day when there are Christian writers who say that a woman’s highest aspiration is to be a beauty rescued by a man, I find it ironic that one of the great heroes of the Bible is Esther, who rejects the stereotype of the beauty queen, who subverts her dim-bulb husband, who puts on a clinic of courage, initiative, and emotional intelligence, and who rescues all the men in the story.
By the way, attending Annual Conference with me this week will be Doug Renfrow and Rochelle Killett. Rochelle, in addition to all she does in our church, serves Nyssa United Methodist Church. Rochelle is an Esther in our church, one of our many gifted and devoted female followers of Jesus Christ who make us wonder where we ever got the idea that men are supposed to run the church