Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Women in the Pulpit (in Johnson City)

Tricities.com has a story about my colleague, Rev. Michelle Buckles, pastor of the 500 member Cherokee United Methodist Church in Johnson City. I go to that church a lot as that is where the Cokesbury bookstore is located. Shout out to Jan!

On to the story:

“One afternoon in the sanctuary just in prayer that I felt a call to ministry and I was scared to death,“ said Rev. Michelle Buckles, Pastor at Cherokee United Methodist Church in Johnson City. She was scared to death because she knew she was about to join a calling not known to many women. “I’d only had one or two models for that in the church that I grew up,“ said Buckles.

Her journey has not been easy. When she interviewed for her first Associate Pastor position in Georgia, the Personnel Chairperson questioned her ability as a woman to server as pastor. “Let’s suppose you get pregnant, and let’s suppose that you deliver early and you’re not even able to stay with us the full term you thought you would be able to,“ said Rev. Buckles.

Nearly two years ago, Doctor Randy Frye appointed her as head pastor of the 500 member Cherokee United Methodist Church. “She didn’t determine her gender, but she felt god’s call,“ said Dr. Frye. As the Superintendent for the United Methodist Church in the Johnson City district, he is working to help women break the stained glass ceiling. “We are a part of the bible belt, the south…in other areas of the united states..women have served in large pulpits for a long time, but we’ve been slower to move in that direction,“ said Dr. Frye.

About one fifth of the clergy members in Dr. Frye’s district are women. Compare that to the number of women attending the services, and you’ve got a major discrepancy. “The irony is in many of our churches the women are in most of the leadership positions…except for pastor,“ said Dr. Frye. But, perhaps, a new generation for women will see that position, after seeing Rev. Buckles and her nine fellow female pastors on Sundays. “Now they understand, that if they feel a call to ministry, that it’s possible,“ said Rev. Buckles.

Check the video for more.

"What if you get pregnant?"

Nope. Can't say I have been asked that question in an interview. Congratulations, Rev. Buckles. So glad your are here!

5 comments:

  1. "break the stained glass ceiling"

    I love it!

    Actually, I think there's a second, newer, slightly higher ceiling within denominations that ordain women. It seems that it's OK for a woman to be a pastor now, especially of a small, struggling, or dying church. (Subtext: a church that has trouble attracting (paying) or keeping a real pastor.) Or as an associate at a larger church. But as a senior pastor/head of staff at a healthy, good-sized congregation? That's a lot more rare in my experience.

    We're a big, healthy, growing congregation, and we have a wonderful associate with many years of experience, an MDiv, and a DMin. But she's the mother figure on staff, the helpmate, not the senior pastor. Her ministry is vital to the success of the church, but our congregation is not ready to see a woman in the top job.

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  2. “Let’s suppose you get pregnant, and let’s suppose that you deliver early and you’re not even able to stay with us the full term you thought you would be able to,“

    I was asked that question in an interview for my first job out of college. I was applying to be an Engineer in the oil fields of West Texas. I was also asked what church I attended (not even "if" I went to church, that was assumed).

    I have met some incredible women pastors in the last couple of years. Most of them are older, second career women. Just think of all the women who were called, but had to find other ways of serving in the past. The future is bright, now if we can just pass the new "B".

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  3. Hi there. Just noticed your comment over at April DeConnick's blog.

    "I like that poet/rebel/healer fighter for peace and justice who sticks it to the man. He lives his integrity to the death and thus inspires change and hope."

    Wonderful encapsulation. Thanks.

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  4. Thanks Sarahlynn and Sara.

    I thought this line from the DS was good:

    “She didn’t determine her gender, but she felt god’s call,“ said Dr. Frye.

    Good for Rev. Buckles (and to all women in the ministry) to keep listening and following that call despite all the other voices that say gender is more important and limiting.

    Dr. Frye's observation could describe others seeking an ordained call:

    "She didn't determine her sexual orientation, but she heard God's call."

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  5. Thanks Steve.

    This is April DeConick's very interesting post. I am looking forward to here series on this.

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