Ahead of International Women’s Day, Rev Suzy Sitton reflects on the role of women in ministry today.
I speak from a place of privilege. Having worked in the corporate world I often wonder how I was perceived as a woman in a senior management role who often had to challenge assumptions and make decisions that would affect the working day of my colleagues.
As a Christian woman in the workplace, I often had to challenge language and behaviours. This challenge brought a respect and acknowledgement that what I brought to the workplace was wisdom, compassion, care and respect which improved relationships with clients and businesses.
In many countries, that acknowledgement is unfortunately not the case for all women in the workplace and society.
International Woman’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements in spite of the inequality that still exists within national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political spheres. It provides a platform to challenge stereotypes and broaden perceptions to help create a gender-equal world. A world where the knowledge, skills and abilities of women are valued not only in the workplace but in the home and all areas where people interact.
Throughout the ages, language and culture have always been unequal but with good theologians and determined people, the Uniting Church has gone a long way to breaking that down. We struggle with language that is counter-cultural and it requires an innovative approach so that words and behaviours of the past do not resurface, and if they do they are challenged.
Women have always contributed to the ministry of the church throughout its history. However, their role in this area has never been free from controversy.
With an understanding of the priesthood of all believers, we have affirmed in the church that no person, called and gifted by God, should be denied any role of ministry or leadership in the church because of their gender.
Jesus showed through his teaching and his actions the worth and value of women as persons to be included alongside men within God’s love and service. His ministry to and through women within his own life and teaching is a powerful witness to the partnership of women and men not only for the church but for society.
Our role as we celebrate International Women’s Day 2020 is to innovate, lead, and uplift others towards equality, praying for the equal partnership of women and men in challenging assumptions and creating equal opportunities for all to thrive. Holding onto the underlying biblical theology of a “new creation in Christ” in which there is “neither male and female”. The Gospel provides a powerful affirmation of the commitment to equality. #EachforEqual
Rev Suzy Sitton is the Minister and the Blue Care Chaplain at Capricorn Coast Uniting Church. Find out more about International Women’s Day.