Growing up in one of the oldest United Methodist Churches in my city, you might think that I was doomed to face some sort of prejudice or exclusion when I took on leadership roles in church. Gladly I report that this was far from the case. I was on numerous committees, was president of the youth group and even preached a sermon on Youth Sunday, with nothing but encouragement and affirmation from the members and pastors.
So, for me, answering my call to go into ministry was easy, as far as my gender was concerned. There were more than a couple pastors who encouraged me in the ministry over the years, at least half of whom were women. I think I may have been in some sort of pastoral haven. Even now I work alongside a male pastor who was also encouraged in the ministry and mentored almost exclusively by women. The fact that, on the whole, there are fewer women pastors than men in the United Methodist Church was a shock to him when he found out. We’ve been living in a bit of a bubble.
Now that I am more in touch with my fellow students at seminary, I realize how much of a bubble I was in and how important it is for me to pass on that mentoring and encouragement to the strong women leaders I see rising up around me in the church. This is not to say that I do not encourage the men, of course I do! I simply will not be someone who overlooks a female who is talented in the ministry as well, simply because she is female.
(I’m the one on the right.)
Blessings to you in your calling!
-Diana M. Davis
Seminary Student at United Theological Seminary
Serving at The University Church in Toledo, Ohio