I came across the Junia Project only recently but have been really impressed with the quality of their posts. For those who don’t know, Junia is the name of a woman from Rome in the first century and she is called an apostle in the New Testament. (Romans 16:7) However for the last hundred years or so most English translations gave her the masculine name Junias, hiding the fact that she was a woman in ministry.
Obviously I too am a woman in ministry. But the “issue” of women in ministry has been one I’ve sometimes been a bit reluctant to talk too loudly about. Partly because I hate the thought that my life and work is an “issue”! I don’t want to be defined by this debate, nor do I wish to be seen as pushing an agenda. I didn’t go into ministry to prove anything to anyone; I simply responded to God’s call on my life and listened to the affirmation of the family of churches He placed me in.
I have been privileged to have male friends, colleagues and pastors who have been and are incredible advocates for me and for all women serving in our churches. I am grateful to them because we all need to hear their voices. They can say things that I cannot and say them far more powerfully than I ever could.
But I have also been given opportunities to speak around this topic and others because of my still relatively rare circumstance. When I was ordained I was the only ordained woman in my denomination in my state. Now, ten years later, I am one of four. Our family of churches have been wonderfully supportive, but we still face challenges in really listening to women’s voices in all their diversity of ministry experiences.
I‘m still figuring out how best to use my voice on this topic. But the Junia Project is challenging and inspiring me. I found this article on How To Avoid Undermining Your Theology Of Gender particularly helpful. Sometimes it is the more subtle things we do that risk undermining what we overtly say we believe. I would think nearly every Christian woman I know would have personal experiences of the kinds of things this article is talking about, and many of us have also done some of the things it challenges us to avoid. We’re all learning together how to navigate the implications of the gospel in a culture still heavily influenced by ‘gender wars.’
Without wanting to jump on any soapboxes, high-horses or bandwagons, because none of those sound like particularly fun places to be, I’m looking forward to listening and exploring more of what it means to use my voice and influence well when it comes to the challenges facing women in the church and in the world today.