Monday, July 27, 2009

One Good Reason

Here' s one good reason why I'm glad to be a Disciple. Yesterday at Hillside's 10:30 am worship:

At the Communion Table . . .
  • Melissa led the prayer for our offering
  • Sue handled the communion meditation and words of institution
  • Sheryl offered thanks for the bread and cup
Three women lay members led the congregation in celebrating the Lord's Supper. It was not a special occasion; it was not lay Sunday; it was not because ordained minsters were missing. It was just Sunday, and those asked to serve just happened to be women, just happened to be lay members.

It was an ordinary Sunday for a fellowship that really believes in the priesthood of ALL believers!


Judy H. said...

This post makes my heart ache. In Churches of Christ, where women are denied any type of participation in worship, this scenario would be sheer fantasy. . . No, sheer "heresy." After studying with our elders for almost four years, they agree that there is absolutely no biblical basis preventing women from serving communion, and yet we are continually denied that precious opportunity. I frequently hear men of the congregation complaining because they've had to serve too many weeks in a row. I see a young boy, barely ten years old, allowed to lead prayer over the Lord's Supper. I listen as a young man, recently arrested and out of jail on bond, gives the communion thoughts. All the while, godly, mature women of the church sit bound to their chairs, bound to silence, bound to the so-called authority of men. It breaks my heart; it makes me so furious and so frustrated, I sometimes cannot even take communion. How can I feel oneness and unity with my brothers, knowing that they view me and the talented women around me as subserviant, second-class members of the body, whose voices are offensive not only to them but to God. It is the height of arrogance and condescension that they see themselves as the arbiters of women's worship lives.

We recently completed a week of Vacation Bible School. The oldest class was for 8-10 year-olds. As a teacher, I spent weeks preparing and working to make the experience special. On the last night, I overheard two women in the kitchen across from my room discussing the week's success. One said, "We really ought to expand VBS next year to include the kids ten and older." The second woman said, "Yes, but then we'd have to get men to teach, and it's so hard to get men to help with VBS." I stuck my head out and said, "Ladies, every teacher here is perfectly capable of teaching kids over the age of ten," but I was quickly reminded that a woman "would not be allowed" to teach young boys who had been baptized. Tell me what is either sane or rational or even healthy about a sixty year old woman being denied authority over a ten year old boy. It is insulting, demeaning, degrading, and offensive to every woman who worships there. I sometimes feel like I am worshipping in the Dark Ages.

revJohn said...

Judy H. - as you likely know, you are not dealing with theological issues, but social/cultural issues. As Harrell's work documents, the Church of Christ has its origin in Southern culture. Theological debate will have little impact until cultural patterns change. Witness segregation. It did not end until law mandated change. Strong visionary church leadership can impact your situation, but it appears that there is little of it in your faith community. I am not the right person to provide advice here. As a male, I could not tolerate the continual discrimination that I witnessed in the Church of Christ. That's just one of many reason why personally I needed to move on to a faith community that better fit my understanding of "church."