I started writing about my experience as a woman pastor. I left off when I began attending a Vineyard church in 1985. The lead pastor of this Vineyard church and a couple of his associates had all served in a church previously that had a woman as the senior pastor.
Sidebar--many have said to me about this woman and this particular church...because the church had it's share of problems..."that's why I could never be okay with ordaining women and having them in the senior role" I wonder why we don't say that about the many, many churches that have had serious problems led by men in the senior pastorate/
Okay, sorry for the short rant...Because the men in the lead pastorate at the Vineyard church I attended (my second adult experience in church) had no problem with women in ministry I was protected in a way from all the controversy.
In 1994 I was a part of a church plant with 4 other folks. In 1995, the lead pastor and the church I served wanted to license and ordain me to recognize the gifts and roles I had been functioning in for years. Our regional overseer at the time in the Vineyard did not think it scriptural to ordain women. I talked with him at length about it. We agreed to disagree. He told us that the Vineyard had not taken a stance on the issue so we could do what we wanted and he would bless it.
So, I was ordained in 1995 and served as the associate pastor in our local church.
In 1996, I married my husband, Rich. He had previously been the senior pastor of a church for many years. He had spent the last 10 years out of the official church ministry setting. He worked with groups and had a counseling practice. After the death of his wife he felt a sense that the rest of his life was to be about ministering within a local faith community.
When we got married, I was functioning on staff as a pastor. He was not. The first year of our marriage was a bit intense to say the least as we worked out our situation. You see, in Rich's church system, women were not ordained and not allowed in senior leadership positions. His wife was a pastor's wife.
Now he found himself in a total role reversal. He was in some ways, the pastor's wife. He can tell his own story but we often laugh at the way the circumstance of life sometimes turns out so different then we could have imagined.
In 1998, the lead pastor I worked with resigned and Rich and I, together assumed the lead pastor role. We co-pastor in every way. We lead the leadership team meetings, we lead the all-group meetings, we take turns teaching and preaching...we truly carry the responsibility of the faith community equally.
The thing that is hard in the Vineyard. Even though the Vineyard is open to women in lead pastor roles, there is still so many areas it is not really recognized. For one, if you go on the Vineyard USA website, the board is made up of all men.
In our area there has been several ELI conferences held. ELI is a Northwest Vineyard project aimed at connecting, equipping and encouraging emerging leaders in the Northwest to lead within and plant from their local churches. At each of these conferences the visible leading has been men. A few of us raised the issue, why not have some women teach, or lead segments...we were basically told they were not going to talk about a the "agenda"
At one of the conferences I was asked to sit on a panel. There were 3 men and 3 women I think. In response to a question, one of the women talked about how at an early age she knew she wanted to be a pastor's wife. Please hear me here, there is nothing wrong with that. What I am about to say has no bearing on her role, call, destiny, I think everyone has to faithfully live out what they are called to.
She made the statement that her role was no different than mine. Someone asked me if I saw it the same. I said I couldn't comment on our roles as I don't know what her role encompasses. What I would say might be different is that I never dreamed of being a pastor's wife, I dreamed of being a pastor. I was a pastor before I was a pastor's wife. I would still be a pastor whether I was married to Rich or not.
I think I was not experienced by some so well that day. I heard from a couple of folks that they thought once again, "Rose has the woman agenda"
In our faith community, most of the young people are like I used to be--they don't even know it is an issue...When some folks come into our community and realize I am a pastor they don't stay. I find our community embraces and honors the giftings and callings of both men and women. I am thankful I am in this community. I hear horror stories of women less fortunate.
Well I am done for today..I'm leaving tomorrow with 3 friends to go on a silent retreat for 48 hours. Even though I have just been gone and have a ton to catch up on, I think this will be a good way to start my work. I am looking forward to the solitude...lots to hear from God on right now.