So, over at RevGals we are having a blogging party/contest!
I've slacked off blogging in the last few years, as have many others. Just like "video killed the radio star," Facebook sort of killed blogging as it was when the first RevGals and Pals found each other online and began the community of support that has nourished and sustained so many since 2005. I'm glad to have a gentle push to go back and write on this topic: "a woman who has been a positive influence on your ministry (whether or not she is/was a pastor)."
(Here are my dad and mom at their church in 2011)
My mother made me the person I am in many ways. She was raised at St. John's Episcopal Church in Tallahassee, taking herself there when her parents stopped going. She did a lot of searching when I was very small, and had a conversion experience that sent her out (in addition to the Episcopal Church of our family) to Assemblies of God and other locations that offered vigorous worship and Bible teaching. My love of ecumenism came early. We always attended and worked in our own Episcopal parish, and in lots of other places, too. In the early 1970's, this included the Church of the Redeemer's Friday night services. Along with others from across the region who wanted to transfer there, Mom & Dad were told to stay in their own parish and share there what they had learned, and they did. They brought Faith Alive to the parish and it became a vibrant and growing place. All four of us played the guitar in monthly parish Folk Masses.
Mom was the first female layreader in our parish, and she had to push for it. I was the first female acolyte, she made sure of it. Mom was also the Sunday School superintendent for forever, I think. Perhaps most formative for me, she ran a group for girls from elementary through junior high (basically the ages my sister and I were) called God's Children. We learned, did crafts and activities, sang as a children's choir and put on musicals. Nobody else was offering this type of activity for kids, and she wanted it for us.
(my Daughters of the King cross and the God's Children emblem, both made by James Avery)
As I look back, I think she'd have made an excellent priest, but that was never in the cards. She worked as a speech pathologist and helped support our family throughout the years. Besides, women weren't regularly ordained in our church until 1977, by which time she had made an ineluctable place for herself in the life and work of our church. I learned from her, along with a family full of churchmen and women, that most of us are called to ministry as laity. The church has to have strong, committed laypersons with the experience and courage to lead in partnernship with ordained people. Laity are not second class; we make it happen.
I love you, Mommy!