Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Women in COG Administrative Offices - A Response

[Note: This piece continues the previous two posts but grew out of a discussion I am having on Facebook. I am posting the articles on women in ministry on both sites.]

Our movement was born in a male dominated social setting. We had early unctions to resist those patterns but we gave into the pressures to conform to the dominant conservative religious practices. Thus our administrative offices (General and state levels, including schools) got caught up in the twentieth-century, business-driven, success orientation and obsessed on the "great-man" who would lead us to the Promised Land. The results are that our various administrative offices have developed an ethos of male dominance. The sub-systems that participate in this system are dependent on maintaining the status quo, male leadership. The closer one gets to the center, the stronger the impulse to maintain the norm.

This system requires that the women who work at these offices function well within male dominated settings. Women with strong leadership traits who enter these settings are viewed as abnormal and a threat to the stability of the system (at best). I am not suggesting the female employees who work there are not self-aware and critically reflective on their situation. I am merely suggesting they have developed the skills necessary to make the persons in authority (who happen to be males) look good and feel good about themselves. Many no doubt believe this is the way things should be, others I suspect quietly critique it. In no way do I wish to be critical of these women. They have difficult jobs and apparently do them well. From all I hear they deserve much of the credit for keeping the COG working. My point is that the women who work in our administrative offices are there because they are effective within a system of male dominance.

Neither am I being critical of the men who serve in leadership positions. They are also products of a male dominated church system and no doubt have varying views on women in leadership. I am merely arguing the ethos of our administrative offices is more restrictive on who fits well into the system and they are therefore the most challenging environments in which to effectuate change.

However, the Executive Committee of the Church of God could initiate change immediately (effective at the next Assembly) if they wished. While there are some positions that the General Assembly has required be filled with Ordained Bishops, there are more top-level, even department head positions that could be filled by any person the Committee deems qualified. They could begin to fill all of those positions with women (and/or minorities). Let us pray they get the vision and the courage to do so. This would effectuate change throughout our denomination.

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