Every week Bishop Willimon writes a message about ministry, which is sent out by email to whomever subscribes to it. There are archives kept as well. This is his most recent article. He tells about his wife's, Patsy, grandmother; who was the first ordained woman in South Carolina Methodism. Since 1956, the Reverend Bessie B. Parker set a high standard of Christian ministry. This was an article he previously wrote for the Christian Century. Thanks be for women like Bessie B. Parker. Patsy Willimon told me that clergywomen hold a special place in Will's heart.
When the Bishop came to our conference 2 years ago he came and spent an afternoon with the clergywomen at their retreat. He shared about his wife's grandmother. He was affirming of us women. But, he was clear that appointments were to be made on the basis of gifts and graces not on gender or color. He was also clear he was going to push forward the younger clergy.
For the women who had been laboring through the "good ole boy network" for years, that was hard yet good to hear. And he has been true to his word. But I and some of the other women have still heard from the Cabinet, that there are still churches that don't want a woman. The conference, and the cabinet still have a ways to go as far as the issue of appointing women goes. I had hoped we would get one of the women Bishops, but I now see that God sent us Bishop Willimon to bring us forward on this issue and other issues, and to lead us through the changes we as ministers and churches need to make. Thanks, God.
I shared in a previous post about my process as a clergy woman in the Baptist church. I was often either the only woman or with a few women in my Seminary classes. It wasn't until I got training in Chaplaincy that I was able to get a job in ministry. I had the privilege of serving with some fine clergy women who were serving as Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors. I was the first clergy women to work at St. John UMC in Columbus, GA, there was a minister of music, Sandra Henryon staff also, is now a Deacon and serves at St. Luke. (Thanks Creede Hinshaw who was willing to give Sandra and me a place to serve!) I had the privilege of working under a wonderful clergy woman, Marcia Cochran while she was at Epworth UMC in Col. GA, presently serving Waycross 1st UMC. (A fine preacher, there is a link at the church's website to listen to her sermons.) I followed three other women associates at Aldersgate UMC in Huntsville, AL; Susie Knedlick, Lynn Dimon, and Carole Elrod, all still serving in the NAL conference. I was the first woman here at Wadley 1st UMC. And now I am moving to St. John in Florence where I will be the first clergywoman. However I am excited that the Lay Leader is a woman, June Montgomery, who is also a certified layspeaker; and has herself spoken the word of God for them. I feel so honored and privileged to be serving God. I thank all the churches, women and men who have paved the way, supported, encouraged and stand by other clergywomen and me.