Yesterday, in our Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer, we celebrated the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Marking her saints day found me reflecting on the enormous blessing that she was and continues to be through her writings. Reading about her remarkable life I was reminded of the struggles that she had and that so many gifted women today have to contend with in order to have their vocation and calling to ministry recognised. Last year, with joy I handed over the baton of leadership and oversight of the Northumbria Community to three remarkably gifted women leaders. I’ve been privileged throughout my many years of ministry to work with some remarkable women but there are very few who would not testify to the struggles that they have encountered in their calling being recognised. Many now occupy roles and responsibilities, leading churches, associations, dioceses, denominations, organisations and communities but the path they have travelled has for most of them been considerably harder them for me and other men. Policies have changed but disparaging attitudes still remain and I see such attitudes and behaviours played out on a fairly regular basis. I’m encouraged that women are now invited to the tables of leadership but just because they are at the table doesn’t always mean that they are offered the top seat or that that their voice and contribution is really welcomed and heeded. Too many gifted, called by God women, have endured tortuous experiences of rejection or who have had to jump through hoops and over hurdles that their male counterparts have never known. I’ve seen good and godly women have their ministries suppressed by attitudes and actions that are not only unjust but abusive and grievous to the Holy Spirit.I see too many churches and organisations denying or suppressing the gifts of God that women in ministry bring. I observe women in ministry who are associates, team members but rarely senior pastors of a team, regional leaders or bishops. I was in conversation with a lovely group of leaders yesterday who are leading their church through an interregnum and are about to call a team leader. I’m intrigued to know whether they would consider a woman to be appointed as the team leader.Giving thanks to God for Thérèse of Lisieux I hold before God in the quiet of this early morning those whom I know and have been privileged to work with, and who I hope I have been an encouragement and affirming support to. Not an exhaustive list by any means but for each and everyone, named and honoured this day, I pray that they may continue to be blessed, and that any of the wounds they carry may be healed. I pray they may continue to be a blessing in the fulfilling of their God given calling to ministry. The blessing of God be upon; Sarah Pillar, Catherine Askew, Sarah Hay, Lina Toth, Lynn Green, Ruth Rice, Claire Wilson, Linda Donaldson, Anita Burke, Ali Boulton, Beth Rookwood, Jo Penn, Caroline Friend, Kate Bruce, Alison Myers, Selina Garner, Diane Watts, Afi Kirk, Karen Sethuraman, Kate Coleman, Cham Kaur-Mann, Mel Nixon, Jenny Few, Heather Farrow, Olive Drane, Penny Marsh, Lisa Holmes, Elaine Lindridge, Claire Hooper, Julie Bryan, Kathryn Morgan, Jacqui Green, Rachel Holland, Ingeborg te loo, Janet Elizabeth, Karen Gray, Mary Publicover, Sally Nelson, Sarah Fegredo, Ann Chesworth, Helen Roberts, Mary Taylor, Sally Mann, Annwen Stone, Pat Took, Karen Campbell, Kez Robinson, Alison Edwards, Lindsay Caplin, Rachel Hudson, Gemma Dunning, Dora Jay-Jay, Hayley Young, Molly Boot, Beth Powney, Sue Seeley, Margene Vessel, Clara Rushbrook, Angie Tunstall, Marg Hardcastle, Ivana Noble and Oksana Hudak.
Everyone a blessing from God!In remembering Thérèse and honouring these women of God I pray that in every place where we are, they may be honoured.