–Blogging from the Church of the Brethren Clergy Women’s Retreat
“I knew that we would all be kindred spirits,” said our worship leader tonight. She gave a presentation on a recent trip to the island of Iona, and said she had been looking forward to this Clergy Women’s Retreat while there and had prayed for the women who would come to this retreat. She brought small stones from Iona to give to each participant.
I looked around the room and thought, are we in fact all kindred spirits?
One might assume that a gathering of Brethren clergy women would, for the most part, be homogenous. But a statistician could find a lot of differentiation among us. This group could easily be “sliced and diced” in a number of ways.
We could be grouped by European or African or Native American or Asian ancestry–which may not all be apparent from our skin tones or accents or names.
If grouped by age or generation, differences would quickly become apparent, variations of culture and lifestyle assumptions would emerge in the baby boomers as opposed to the Gen Xers, for example.
There are women here with decades of experience in pastoral or other forms of ministry. And there are the newly licensed, and some who have been in ministry for only a couple of years or less.
There are extroverts and introverts, artists and writers, academics and administrators, preachers and counselors, chaplains and teachers.
Women have come here from very different geographical places, from the east, the south, the west, the midwest, the mountain states. Each of those settings has its own cultural and political and theological geography–and a varying scale of welcome for women in church leadership.
The group includes women doing ministry in the large metropolises of Chicago, greater Los Angeles, D.C. It also includes women serving in rural settings, where the only way to get to church might be by gravel road.
Some have been in the Church of the Brethren all their lives. Some are brand new to the denomination.
Are we kindred spirits? At one level, I believe so. In Ephesians 4 it is called “the calling with which you have been called.” All called to ministry, all answering God’s call in one way or another. That’s how the women in this gathering are kin, and that is the place our spirits meet.
Director of News Services