Closets and Ceilings

This week, I have four friends visiting.  They are all women that I’ve come to know and love through The Young Women Clergy Project.  Last night, we stayed up late talking about the stained glass ceiling — which is this idea that clergy women can only go so far.  In other professions, where women, queers or people of color are trying to advance their careers, the term is the glass ceiling. As ordained women, who are most often employed in churches with sparkly glass, it’s the stained glass ceiling that we can’t bust through according to a recent Huffington Post article.  

Last night, with these other amazing women, I sipped wine in deep discussion about the arch of our careers. This is a conversation we get into often as young clergy women because we have peers that don’t want to be the Bishop, the Conference Minister or even a Senior Pastor. We have friends that feel called to minister to youth. We have colleagues that believe their ministry is all about children. There are women that believe that their call isn’t all about the church and the only way to carve out that space is to be a part-time Associate Pastor. The stained glass ceiling seems to assume that these women don’t want it enough because that ladder-climbing stuff is something every woman should want.  That’s the assumption, but it’s not true for the five of us. Currently, we’re all Associate Pastors but each of us articulates our call to the good news of Jesus Christ in a slightly different way.  

I don’t want to climb a ladder.  I don’t want to bust through anyone’s ceiling.  I want to write.  I want to read.  I want to drink wine.  I want to have really amazing conversations with really fantastic people (like the ones that are visiting me this week) — but I don’t need a “big steeple.”  I want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I want to be a follower in a group of people that really wants to figure out what being faithful means right now.

So, I said some things on Sunday morning that articulated my faith right now.  I articulated my discomfort and outrage about recent events that have lead to the death of seven teenagers. I attempted to come out as an ally. I jumbled my words in doing so. I was indeed tongue tied because I know how important it is to speak truth. And this is truth. It’s true for me as a disciple of Jesus Christ and I’m so pleased that it’s also true for the people I serve.  We’re all trying to be allies in our own way.  On Sunday, I wanted it to be known that we need to keep finding new ways to be allies.  Like the woman, we need to be persistent.  We don’t need to just shatter glass.  We need to bust open those closets that trap and confine the possibilities of God.  It wasn’t my best sermon.  My words weren’t perfect.  I even got a little tongue tied — which I consider to be holy. To others, I hear it was confusing.  A church member came into my office this morning and said there was some buzz in coffee hour about whether or not I might be… a lesbian. Maybe even bisexual.  I don’t know. The rumor wasn’t shared directly with me.  

There is no doubt in my mind that the people in this particular United Church of Christ would be supportive if I were a lesbian. That’s a big if though.  A really big if.  That if weighs heavily upon the recent news and neighbors and friends speculate about whether or not he might be gay or she might love another woman. In some communities, those ifs lead toward violence. That single if can ruin a life.  Trust me.  I know.  I’m a young clergy woman.  I’m single.  In the church, I’m a big, fat question mark because I don’t fit neatly in any of the categories that have historically defined women.  I thank God for that every day because it allows me to be who God has called me to be. I can only hope that God grants us all that space.

One thought on “Closets and Ceilings

  1. Wow! It makes me sad to think that the church won't allow its ministers to simply BE. Isn't this what we provide for all our members– space to be accepted as themselves?

    Love that you had such fabulous houseguests. Miss all of you.


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