It’s International Women’s Day this week, and it’s a brave man who comments on it! Yet I feel compelled to do so, as we have to recognise, even against the favourable comparisons that could be made in terms of other countries, that there’s still work to do here in Australia and in our own church.
The theme is about pressing on for parity in terms of gender equity.
I read this morning of the life of Rev Thelma Murray, after whom one of the lecture rooms at the Queensland Synod office is named.
Thelma was a deaconess serving as a home missionary in the Presbyterian Church in the 1950s. She had a powerfully effective ministry in a number of places across the state, and engendered strong support wherever she served.
Up at Maleny, she was supplied with a horse called “Satan” for her work; he proved very difficult, so some parishioners joined together to fund a Harley Davidson for her, and later, a car.
She achieved Bachelors of Arts and Divinity, but had to transfer to the Congregational Church to respond to the call to ordained ministry.
Such tenacity of purpose is commendable, and in a church that confesses that, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”, it is sobering that a woman of such capacity had to go to such lengths that she had to in order to fulfil her calling.
Today in the Uniting Church, we pride ourselves on our commitment to gender equality, but, “we’re not there yet”, and challenges still remain for women in leadership in our church.
This week is the time to purposefully encourage women as they pursue their life goals. And particularly for us men, the closer we are in relationship to women—as fathers, husbands, brothers—the more important our encouragement.