Can women lead churches? It’s still a question for many Christians. Several things are on my mind in this regard. First, the Anglican General Synod voted to allow women bishops in the Church of England. Second, I watched on DVD the conclusion to the British comedy, The Vicar of Dibley, a wildly funny series about a woman priest in a small English village. Third, this month is the 20th anniversary of my call to be pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gardner, Massachusetts.
I grew up believing that women were not allowed to be pastors. I experienced my call to pastoral ministry and applied to seminary before I ever met a woman minister. I had to move across the country to find a church to serve as pastor. Ironically, that church had a gifted woman pastor, Rev. Ruth E. Thompson, for over 20 years. For many in the church, it was a relief to have a woman in the pulpit again! I spent thirteen years as their pastor, and I am grateful for the many blessings I received from them.