I don't honestly think about "women in ministry issues" a whole lot. I guess I just go about my work not thinking of myself as a female pastor, just a pastor. I have almost never felt directly discounted for being a woman in my work. But a conference call last week got me thinking about what makes being a woman in the clergy different then being a woman in other historically male-only professions.
Here's the deal: There are other vocations -- medicine, law, police work -- where women now serve but haven't always. But what makes women clergy different than, say, women doctors is that while there are perhaps some specialties in medicine in which women are underrepresented, there are not entire hospitals where women are not allowed to practice. There are not entire courthouses all over America where lawyers cannot argue a case if they are female. This is not true of the clergy. There is something unusual about serving in a profession where there are entire institutions in America where women are not allowed to do my job.
Several Missouri Synod (a conservative Lutheran denomination which does not support the ordination of women) pastors and some evangelical ones have asked (recently and in the past) if I might meet or e-mail them to talk about ministry and the emerging church. I always accept and am delighted that they want to talk but at the same time am aware of the fact that while we are both ordained pastors, they are part of churches that don't believe that I should be allowed to do my job based on my gender. I guess it always feels ... vulnerable. And ironic. But it's never ended up being a bad experience. Perhaps this shows us all some hope for the Body of Christ.
Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor living in Denver, Colorado, where she is developing a new emerging church, House for all Sinners and Saints. She blogs at www.sarcasticlutheran.com and is the author of Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television.