Tonight, as I write, women are gathering in Georgia. These are women who have received a call, only to be told along the way that they must be mistaken. These are women who have heard God move deep in their souls, only to have others say that they must be wrong. These are women who refused to be silent, who refused to be nameless, who refused to accept what the men in power were saying about them.
So they gather in the Mountains of Georgia, to tell stories, to laugh and cry, to share how God is working in their lives. This gathering is called The Emerging Women’s Leadership Initiative National Consultation and women from all over the nation and from a variety of perspectives are participating. Throughout the world, people are praying for these women, asking God to speak and determine how they will lead God’s people in the days ahead.
Many years ago, when I was still claiming to be a Baptist but was working for the United Methodists, I attended the United Methodist Clergywomen’s Consultation in New Jersey as a staff member. I was one of about 20 guys in a group of several hundred women. There were women there who had been bruised and battered in their ministries, women who had carried the torch leading the way, but were now tired and bitter. There were also women who were new to ministry, women who had grown up in a different world, a changed world. These women were the second generation, women who had different experiences and were fighting different battles. The two groups struggled at times to hear one another. As a guy, I quickly recognized that I was in a sacred space and the best place to be was in the background as much as possible.
From that experience, my prayer for the Consultation this weekend is twofold: first, that all present feel heard and that all the differing experiences are valued, and second, that the men among us will recognize this as sacred space and take a back seat while the women lead us.
Holy Spirit, Divine Wind, Blessed Creator
You are breathing, you are whispering, you are leading.
Like a mother with a baby at her breast, you are feeding a new creation.
Speak . . . in the Georgia highlands.
Speak . . . to those who weep over their dreams.
Speak . . . to all who would hear your voice and recognize
that no gift should be wasted,
that no voice should be silenced,
that no talent should be squandered.
We have emerged and we are emerging.
Lead us to the place and identity you have held for us
since the beginning of time.
In the name of the one who created us,
the one who redeemed us,
and the one who sustains us.