What Motherhood and Ecumenism Have in Common

“There are practical obstacles to women during intervals of pregnancy, giving birth and nursing, of which the female employees usually take extensive leave from their employment. Being occupied in priestly work may cause complete negligence in the role of a housewife and in rearing of children.”

I am a woman, a mother, and an ordained minister.

I have also been deeply involved with the work of ecumenism for nearly twenty-five years.

There are two main areas of ecumenical work. The first is the work that different churches and traditions can do together as Christians witnessing to our shared faith – work on justice issues, social issues, and mission. This work has often been referred to as the “life and work” side of the ecumenical movement.

The second area focuses on working together to overcome the doctrinal and structural divisions that separate us from one another. There are considerable theological differences between different traditions about how we understand the meaning of communion/eucharist, for example. There are also considerable differences about how we understand the practice of ministry, specifically, who can be ordained to serve as ministers in the church.

For me, the theological differences that prevent us from being able to share the cup and the bread together are painful markers of the ongoing divisions among Christians. But when it comes to the issue of ordination and ministry – as an ordained woman, the division is not only painful, it is personal.

Continue reading What Motherhood and Ecumenism Have in Common

On Death and Denominationalism

[third in a series of posts addressed to understanding denominations and ecumenism]

What would you die for?

To save your children? To save your spouse? To ensure world peace? To promote your religion? Would you die rather than renounce your beliefs? Which ones? As we enter Holy Week, I often think about Jesus’ death and try to figure out what to make of it.

Continue reading On Death and Denominationalism

Why I’m Presbyterian

[this is the second in a series of posts addressed to understanding denominations and ecumenism]

I’m a PK (preacher’s kid) and a cradle Presbyterian. Family lore has it that when my grandparents married, my grandfather was a Republican and an Episcopalian and my grandmother was a Democrat and a Presbyterian. They agreed that they needed to make some compromises and so they became Republican Presbyterians. My grandmother later confided in me that while everybody knew where they went to church, the voting booth had curtains!

Continue reading Why I’m Presbyterian

Catechism, Christianity, and Chocolate Soda

When I joined the Presbyterian Church in 7th grade, I was required to memorize the Westminster shorter catechism. Yes, I said memorize and no, I wasn’t required to memorize bible verses, I was required to memorize what we believe as Christians. I still remember how torturous this process was. The first question was “What is the chief end of man?” Yes, you heard me right, “man.” After all, this was the 1970s. Inclusive language hadn’t quite infiltrated into our Christian Ed materials, yet.

Continue reading Catechism, Christianity, and Chocolate Soda

Do I Have To Go to Church?

With a teenage daughter in the house, I seem to get this question much more frequently on Sunday mornings than I used to. Especially since the nine-year old, who follows her sister’s lead in everything, has began to sing this refrain as well.

I grew up as a “PK” or a “preacher’s kid.” This was not a question that got asked in our house. Unless you had a fever of a 104 or couldn’t keep down your breakfast, you were going to church! And it wasn’t just worship on Sunday morning, it was Sunday school, worship, youth group, Wednesday night suppers, and any other “programming” that happened to be offered. As the preacher’s family, the Church was the center of our social world. This made sense for our family but there were many other families in our church who this was true for as well. The church family was a community, people knew each other and supported one another through life’s ups and downs. Continue reading Do I Have To Go to Church?