Tuesday, 25 November 2008


I’ve had two key evening experiences with groups of women in the last week. One naked and the other, thankfully, fully clothed. Last night we had the fully clothed one – an evening meal in Robusto’s (which I learnt will sadly be closing shortly) entitled ‘Encouraging Women in Church Leadership’. There were around 50 there altogether and just the four men among them. It was a most encouraging evening – and I say that on the basis of the number of women who said that to me. The idea was to encourage women in, or into, Church leadership. As Baptists we have a theoretical openness to women as ‘the key leader’ – we’ve been ordaining women since the 1920’s. However, when all is said and done, there’s a lot more said than done strikes again – we have only 11% of our nationally accredited ministry who are female. There is something symptomatic here about how we do (rather not do) our theology. There’s a long way to go on this one and I realise the answer is not in changing wooden statistics, but as with measuring church growth thenumbers represent people. Take Ali, for example, who shared something of her story last night. At 17 she boldly shared with a weekend speaker how she believed God was leading her forward into ministry of some kind. The response? ‘what would you do?’ His advice? ‘maybe you could marry a Minister’’ or become ‘a missionary’!!  Hopefully, last night proved to be a real encouragement for many there – putting courage in them to go and become all God is calling them into and encouragers themselves – multipliers of ministry.

Of yes, the naked event. I did smile to myself half way through watching ‘Calendar Girls’ on Friday evening at the Theatre Royal in Bath. I get used to the phrase ‘conduct unbecoming’ in my role and thought how ironic it was - sitting in a theatre with my wife surrounded by equally respectable people (they certainly looked as if they’d fit into our church!) and on stage were five naked women. Put that in a different context and it becomes conduct unbecoming!   

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