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Note from the Editor

This edition of @ This Point, on women in ministry, contains a range of “snapshots” from its contributors, whose hard-fought wisdom graces us all and whose wounds remind us of how far we have to go. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty, Professor of Theology at Bellarmine University, leads off this edition with a collection of insightful and incisive reflections on the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that women in ministry continue to face obstacles that none of their male counterparts face. Responding to Hinson-Hasty’s lead essay, Prof. Katie Geneva Cannon of Union Presbyterian Seminary, Prof. E. Elizabeth Johnson, who serves as Columbia’s own J. Davison Phillips Professor of New Testament, and current CTS DMin student Rev. Lindsay Armstrong add their own insights garnered from personal experience and close attention to the cultures in which they work. (Full disclosure: I’m fortunate to be Rev. Armstrong’s spouse. She says very kind things about me in her response; were I nearly so good a partner as she suggests, I would reciprocate here.). To their contributions add a very helpful set of curricula designed by recent CTS MDiv graduate and current head of staff at Rehoboth Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Rev. Rachael Whaley-Pate.

To their snapshots, I would add a few small ones from my own experiences with churches:

These are simply a few anecdotes and, perhaps, as the oft-quoted and apocryphal meme reminds us, “the plural ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’.” Maybe they’re not data (but if not, what are they?) but such anecdotes—especially when combined with all the snapshots and data that our contributors bring—are certainly signs that demand our interpretation.

As I read through these essays and reflect on my own experiences and observations, I am struck by the degree to which the move to recognize the full equality of women in ministry has been complicated not only by gender but by generation. That is, I wonder whether women have also faced a generation of mainline denominational clergy whose verbal support for women in ministry has not necessarily been matched by their actions.

There is, clearly, an irony in all this. The same generation against which I am railing is the generation that opened doors for women to serve in all the offices of the church. Such, perhaps, is the ambiguity of all change. There is, however, also hope. The generation that opened doors for women in ministry is being replaced by men and women who are used to walking through doors together. The church—including, perhaps especially, the mainline Protestant women-ordaining church—will still struggle with inequality in ministry. But maybe the struggle will take place on slightly more level ground. And as long as there are women like the writers for this edition of @ This Point willing to share their wisdom, the outcome of that struggle will be of benefit to women and, therein, to the whole church.