I never saw a woman preaching in a church pulpit until my first month into seminary. I’m not sure what I was thinking – a 20-something woman taking required preaching courses who had never laid eyes on, much less heard, a woman preacher before. But there I was.
“My first” was another student – MH – who was clear and strong and smart. I’ve never forgotten that moment of witnessing her in the pulpit. She – who would eventually receive the senior award for Best Preacher – delivered the sermon with confidence and grace.
Years later, after I’d preached countless sermons myself, a couple visiting Washington, DC on vacation came to worship in the church I was serving. On the way out of the sanctuary, the gentleman said to me, “I was very surprised when you stood in the pulpit. You seem to be a woman.”
Why, yes I was and still am.
It used to be considered odd and unusual to find a woman in the pulpit, and in certain denominations, it still is. But there are quite a few of us now.
I remember when all the clergywomen in my Presbytery could fit around a dinner table for six or eight. A few years later, there were enough of us to fill a whole fellowship hall. And now we number in the thousands.
There’s a Woman in the Pulpit tells stories about the experiences of these clergywomen. And it’s a great read.
This book is for everyone who seeks beauty in both the common and uncommon. There’s the story about the woman who baptized her own mother. There’s the story about the pastor who sat at the death bed of a frail man who loved to put puzzles together. There’s the story about the woman adorning her hair in preparation for standing in a sanctuary full of wedding guests – but she is the officiant, not the bride.
Most parishioners have no idea what their pastor does all week. There is no one watching us visit the sick, writing our sermons, preparing for meetings, making choices that impact our personal lives and our ecclesiastical lives.
If you’re interested, this lovely collection explains it beautifully. It will change the way you see your pastor and your own ministry.
(Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I have a story in this collection too.)