Doug, Elijah and I had a perfectly delightful time with the folks from The Little Church by the Sea on Saturday. It was great to meet Jeff and Patty Tacklind in person, and the members of the church did a great job of welcoming us and making us feel at home. It was also a pleasure to meet Ron Pierce who was one of the presenters. And Laguna is beautiful! Driving through, both Doug and I commented that it would be fun to come back and spend some time exploring–very artsy, lots of shops and galleries and restaurants, and of course beautiful beaches.
The whole church was participating together in a symposium that dealt with issues surrounding women in ministry, and they had a series of speakers lined up offering different theological perspectives on the topic. As a church, they are seeking to discuss this issue in an open, safe, and loving way as a body, and for that I very deeply admire them. I think that their approach, and what I saw of its execution, is exactly how churches can and must learn to talk together about things that can feel volatile or divisive. I know that in our church context here we have wildly differing views on some things within our body–one of the by-products, and certainly challenges, of embracing cultural diversity. And it is often easier to simply avoid contexts where those divisions will be felt or seen rather than actually engage one another in constructive, and loving, dialogue.
One of my favorite moments of the day came when one of the older members stopped by my table after I had given my talk which focused on my own journey as a woman called by God as a minister. She sat down and looked me in the eye and said: “Now when you share about God’s calling, don’t forget to address the older people as well.” She proceeded to share with me how, at eighty-two years of age, she is just now stepping into God’s call to ministry as a hospital chaplain. I loved that reminder of how God works to call those who have ears to hear and a willingness to lay down their life. She was the perfect illustration of the point I was seeking to make about how God works to call and equip those whom he chooses, and how that is recognized by the fruit seen in their ministry and in their life. We would do well to hear more stories like hers from our pulpits and platforms.