I come from a long line of strong, independent women. My great-grandmother, born in the 19th century, owned and managed rental property in the 1940's and 50's. Both of my grandmothers worked outside the home; one of them was an office manager for an insurance company. My mother earned a college degree in 1958, and went on to a career in medical technology and veterinary research. I remember being so proud when we learned about electron microscopes in school, and my mom knew how to use one! One result of this legacy has been that I never felt as if my options were limited by my gender.
This past June, it was an honor to be commissioned during the annual conference that celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the ordination of women in The United Methodist Church. Throughout the conference, there were luncheons, video presentations, and short vignettes telling about the women who had come before me. I must admit, I didn't "get it." I didn't fully understand the power and value of the legacy into which I had stepped.
This past week I have been reading What I Didn't Know Then, by Linda Foster Momsen. Rev. Foster Momsen was the seventeenth woman to be ordained in her conference of The United Methodist Church. This book chronicles the struggles and resistance she faced both inside and outside the church. It also tells of the joy she found in finally fulfilling the call she received at age sixteen. I am thankful that my eyes have been opened to the difficulties faced by all those clergywomen who came before me, and for their perseverance.