I live in Florida . . . where it is always summer never winter. So it’s a shock to my system whenever I head north to colder climates. It feels like tumbling out of the back of a wardrobe, suddenly finding myself in the bitter cold world of Narnia.
This week I traveled with my friend and fellow Synergy promoter, Susan Nash, to the snow-covered campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. On our arrival, Dr. Alice Mathews, GCTS’s Academic Dean, delivered on her promise of a “a very warm welcome in frigid, icy, snowy New England.”
Her greeting wasn’t the only reason I felt warm in wintry Massachusetts.
Chilly outside temperatures can’t beat off the warmth I feel when I hear the passion of women to study and learn, to pursue a deeper relationship with God, and to follow His call to minister to others. I feel even warmer when I see theological seminaries putting out the welcome mat for women and hear of professors valuing the presence and contributions of women in the seminary classroom.
I feel a different kind of heat (more like fire!) inside when I hear stories of respected Christian leaders and even beloved mentors attempting to dissuade women from pursuing a seminary education. Or when I hear, as I did this past week, of studies that focused on female graduates from two leading evangelical seminaries over the past decade indicating only 13% of them have been able to find jobs in ministry organizations.
What is wrong with this picture?! Are the challenges the Christian church faces so small, that we can do without these ezer-warriors? I think not.
My hat goes off to the many women who, without the benefit of seminary training, have studied and done their best to teach God’s Word. What some have accomplished with one hand tied behind their backs is extraordinary to say the least. At the same time, I have to wonder what more they could have done with the tools and training available at evangelical seminaries. Or how the church might have been strengthened and seminary communities themselves been enriched by involving, better yet recruiting, women at the seminary level in the study of theology and Scripture.
What possible advantage can there be to the church in making sure women know less or are less well-equipped for ministry? Where is the verse that says a woman should only know so much about God and no more? And what can we do to make the most of this growing resource of trained women God has called into Christian ministry?
Both kinds of heat fuel my commitment to Synergy. This is at least one place where we believe in women and are getting behind them as they train for, seek and engage in ministry opportunities.
Next weekend I’ll be digging out my winter coat, gloves, and scarf again and heading for the bitter cold Chicago area where I’ll be meeting with the women of Wheaton Bible Church and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. And where, I’m pretty sure, instead of shivering, I’ll be feeling a lot of warmth inside as I interact with women who have a passion for learning and who are moving forward with their seminary training.