Usually we (or at least I) think that cross cultural experiences require a trip. You know a destination different from your hometown. Doesn’t have to be international. But usually necessitates some lengthy travel experience where you leave your comfort zone and enter into another way of seeing, doing, and being.
For the last couple of months I’ve been thinking about how often I feel this way within ministry. Specifically, within ministeriums, pastor groups, and such. I assume those I’m with also see me as an outsider as it is regularly assumed that I am either
a. a seminarian b. an active lay person or c. a lay pastor. or d. all of the above
Option E–Ordained Clergy–is the circle always left empty. This experience is not unique to young women clergy. And I for one have started to ask: Do I really need to sport a collar at pastor meetings to show that I’m a pastor?
If you couldn’t guess, I had one of these encounters today…in the midst of an ecumenical ministerium meeting talking about young people. Specifically, a conversation that revolved around young people’s ability to learn and share in leadership within the life of the church. Ironic, isn’t it? It went something like this…
One pastor: M, is it true that young adults aren’t able to lead in the church?
Same pastor: So perhaps Rev. Man here and Ms. M can offer us some resources at…
Rev. Man: Ms. M is also an ordained person
Ms. M.: If I may, I want to point out that this conversation right here shows the problem of young people being able to lead within the church.
(I could go on with all I said but I won’t.)
And here’s the thing. I come from a denomination that prizes covenant, mutuality, relationship. BUT that takes two people–two sides–two committed to being in dialogue. And yes it is my responsibility to speak out and up when I see these moments of tension. And yet I wonder–when you so regularly have to have these conversations–how much do these folks really want to be in relationship?