Tuesday March 8th is International Women’s Day. According to the United Nations, “It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.”* It’s always been a day when we can especially celebrate the achievements of women throughout the world and work for a world where respect and equality win out.
It’s not always easy for women to work in male-dominated professions. There was an article about trends for women in ministry a few years ago in The Christian Century and it stated, “Combining 2017 figures from the American Baptist Churches USA, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church, the study found women made up 32 percent of total clergy. Women cannot be ordained in the two largest U.S. religious groups: the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.”* I am proud to say that the outlier is the United Church of Christ. The 2020 Statistical Profile of the UCC reveals that there are now 52.5% active Ordained ministers who are women!* But sometimes women clergy do experience sexism, even within denominations that ordain women. Those stories might be for another week, but oh geez, do I have some (as do most women clergy).
Though on this week, when we think about the empowerment of women, I want to share one of my favorite moments (in contemplating being a woman in ministry). I was asked to offer the opening prayer at our town’s Memorial Day observance in Lexington. The organizers had me seated in the front row next to the guest speaker, a WWII veteran. My grandfather (also a veteran in the Army) had died only a few months earlier and as I looked around at those gathered, especially all the elderly men in their VFW or American Legion uniforms, I was feeling profoundly sad and quite frankly was just trying to hold it together. In fact, I had even contemplated finding another clergy colleague to offer the prayer because I knew that it would be a hard day.
Our event speaker turned to me and said, “Now, who are you again?”
“I’m Reverend Lauren Lorincz, the pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church over on Coolidge Ave.”
“Oh sure, I know that church. Beautiful church. But you know, back in my day, there weren’t women ministers or rabbis or anything like that.”
Here we go, I thought.
Though he smiled and patted my hand and said, “But some things are better now.”
I just about lost it, but this time it was because of an elderly veteran and his graciousness and openness to me as a woman in ministry.
Some things are better now.
Yes, they certainly are.
Happy (belated) International Women’s Day!
*”International Women’s Day: History of the Day” 8 March, United Nations, https://www.un.org/en/observances/womens-day/background
*”Report details trends for U.S. women clergy,” in The Christian Century, October 30, 2018, https://www.christiancentury.org/article/news/report-details-trends-us-women-clergy
*”Statistics and Reports,” The United Church of Christ, https://www.ucc.org/who-we-are/about/general-synod/general-synod-resolutions-regarding-environmental-justice/research_statistics-and-reports/
Thursday Thoughts 3/10/22