They sang, “And we’ll guard each man’s dignity, And save each man’s pride.” But except for occasional appearances of husbands of one or two members, no men attended last month’s jubilee assembly of the American Association of Women Ministers. The group’s officers, chaplain, and speakers, as well as the American Baptist Assembly staff soloist and her accompanist, were women, and they conducted the meetings, preached, lectured, and passed resolutions without consulting men.
But they talked about men. “We must not rest content until ordained women have the assurance of equality in placement of service, without discrimination, along with men members of the clergy,” declared the president in her keynote address. “There can be no equality,” said the Rev. Marrietta Mansfield, “as long as the Church continues to permit a segregated ministry.” Inequality in the ministry, the Methodist from Cloverport, Kentucky, affirmed, is a major stumbling block to ecumenicity and the effectiveness of the Church.
The ladies talked of men who reject ordination of women and men who accept it. “Even a great theologian can have some strange ideas,” said Dr. Georgia Harkness, referring to Karl Barth’s belief that women are subordinate to men by creation but equal in sin and in openness to salvation. The Methodist theologian and author told also of a clergyman who refuted the claim that women should not be ordained because Jesus chose no female disciples. “On that reasoning we would need one Judas among every twelve ministers,” he said.
The first American woman to be appointed a district superintendent of the United Methodist Church also talked of ...1
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