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Leading Lady

Rev Kaye Ronalds. Photo by Osker Lau
I REMEMBER that my Grade Three teacher had to resign because she was getting married.

On parade we gave her a shiny new electric kettle, but I now realise that the gift was little compensation for giving up the vocation for which she had trained.

Later I learned that her wages would not have been equal to the Grade Four teacher who had asked her to marry him.

In my teenage years I had Helen Reddy singing “I am woman” in one ear and Olivia Newton John singing “I honestly love you” in the other.

I am enormously grateful to the women and men of previous generations who fought for the changes in society that have allowed women to vote, take public office and train for professions and vocations previously only open to men.

A number of capable and competent female leaders have been in this synod during the almost 35 years since church
union but for various reasons did not get the opportunity that has been presented to me.

Other synods and the Assembly of the Uniting Church have appointed women in key roles.

Being elected as the next moderator is both an honour and a heavy responsibility – “to whom much is given much will
be required”.

Already, people are hinting at things which they believe should be part of my agenda.

In the past some people have been alienated by the aggressive tendencies of some feminists while, at the same time, oblivious to the sometimes patronising dominant patriarchy of the church and society.

Change often requires a radical swing before settling into a new normal.

I am the product of my generation, a graduate and beneficiary of the women’s movement.

Out of that I formed the opinion that as a church we need to attend to the voices that are silenced if they are not represented around the tables of our councils.

Even in the church there are new peoples who need liberating both here and overseas.

As a young person I benefited from the regulation in place for the first six years of the Uniting Church (1977-1982) that required one third of the membership of Councils and Committees to be women.

In 1992 I joined the Army Reserve and became the first female army chaplain.

Will I bring a woman’s perspective to the role of moderator? Probably.

I won’t stop being a wife, mother, sister, daughter and auntie during my term.

I will try to bring the qualities of the best relationships that I have shared with men and women.

Previous moderators have brought their own personality, personal history, passions and wisdom to the role and they have
all been different from each other even though they were all male.

I have had many conversations about whether women could represent God and what the Apostle Paul taught about
relationships, diff erence and how God’s Spirit gifts individuals for service.

There are people who express a view that women have no place in leadership.

The Bible abounds with stories in which women were agents of God’s purposes and they continue to give me inspiration.

Rev Kaye Ronalds is the Moderator-elect of the Queensland Synod. She will be inducted as the Moderator at the 29th Synod meeting in October this year and will be the first woman to hold this position.

Photo : Rev Kaye Ronalds. Photo by Osker Lau