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« Get your armour on... | Main | 'So easy, even a man can do it' »

May 20, 2009


Judy Redman

Well, as an ordained woman, I obviously have a bias, but...

If an organisation approaches CU wanting to be allowed to do a presentation, then CU has the right to make conditions - like the speaker can only talk for 10 minutes, or can't hand out leaflets, or ... can only send a male speaker. The organisation then needs to decided whether it can do a reasonable presentation of their work whilst working within the restrictions or whether the restrictions will mean that the picture they present is so distorted that they don't want to present. I would argue that CU's requirement that they send a male speaker who is less experienced comes into this category, but it's their call. At least CU are trying to be consistent, unlike the churches who won't allow women to speak in their worship but will let them preach in missionary situations overseas. OTOH, if CU is getting funding from the Student Union, having agreed to abide by the equal opportunities policy, they are lying and obtaining funding under false pretences, which is hardly something that is in line with Christian ethics. I'm sure they'd be the first to complain if another student organisation were to refuse to have a speaker with expertise on a particular issue because they were Christian.

The other is just plain bizarre. The *church* asks the organisation for a speaker and then says "no, we don't want the woman". This is saying "we want you do something for us, but we want to dictate how you do it". When I was newly ordained, the neighbouring congregation appointed a woman to their ministry team. Each of the three of them was rostered in rotation to do the funerals of people who had no real connection with the church but some people who approached the church for funerals specifically said they didn't want "the woman". The approach of the other ministers and the church office was very polite but very firm - S is a full part of our ministry team and it's her turn to do the funeral of anyone that isn't already in a pastoral relationship with one of the other members of the team. If you want a funeral from this church now, S will be doing it. If you don't want S, let us give you the contact details of some of the other ministers in town. I think the organisation should have refused the conditions out of respect for the dignity of their employee.

I also worked on an interdenominational working party with one of the Anglican bishops most vehemently opposed to ordination of women. I was one of my denomination's nominees, so he worked on the principle that he would respect me as a representative of my denomination. We both knew our respective positions on ordination of women, but it wasn't relevant to the issues we were discussing, so we simply didn't mention it. It worked very well because he had the grace to accept that what my denomination does was none of his business as long as we didn't insist that he agree with us, and I did the same.

sheila bridge

I feel the organisations should make a stand and challenge the policy of both the CU and the church. These stories make me so sad, they sound like they are straight out of the Brethen church I grew up in the 1970's. How sad that women's gifts are still being undervalued.

Ali Campbell

As a man I continue to be staggered and ashamed when I hear these stories. The reality is, it is NOT a salvation issue to have a woman speak . . . but that I mean it won't change the impact of what God wants to do through his Holy Spirit, whether it is a man or woman speaking . . . is it the right person for the context, regardless of gender - great! Preach it! In these sorts of churches, at the critical time of spiritual formation and when people come to faith (i.e. before the age of 19) they will have no problem having women teach children and young people . . . yet get precious about their "pulpit", when most of those preached to are adults and, if they are being taught in a holistic way, should be being encouraged to test and weigh what is said by whoever is speaking . . . . this whole thing is a nonsense. What we need is a second reformation, 500 years ago you could be burnt at the stake for translating the bible into English, my prayer here is that it doesn't take the church that long to see the back of this appalling practice.


what strikes me as so crazy was that they were willing to give voice to the project run by a woman but not willing that she be the voice in their midst
I personanly would want to fight it all the way. but i can understand the politics of large organisations that often go with the preasure of targets and the need to meet objectivites.
If there had to be any compromise i would put the decision solely in the hands of the woman affected and no-one else

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