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We've Come a Long Way, Sisters!


The Inclusive Bible translates Genesis 5:1b-2a, “When God created humankind, they were made to be like God. They were created male and female….” Although we’ve come a long way, I remember a time when it was unusual for the contributions of women to be acknowledged in school history classes. Women were typically only referenced as the daughter or wife of a man whose accomplishments were named. As a Christian, I believe that all of God’s children need to be respected equally. Not only that, but until the contributions of women are widely acknowledged, new and important achievements by women may be dismissed.


I like to think that as a woman and one of God’s ministers, maybe I can help people to see that women are of equal value to men. I’ve been blessed to serve three congregations in the Pacific Southwest Region – North Long Beach Christian Church, All Peoples Christian Church, and now First Christian Church of Lompoc – where my gender has never been an issue.


I sometimes say that God moved me from my childhood denomination to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) because the Lord wanted me in ministry, and the Southern Baptist Church doesn’t ordain women. When I told my oldest brother that I was going to seminary, he was clearly conflicted; proud that his baby sister was a woman of faith but at the same time pointing out that “women aren’t supposed to be ministers.” In the almost seven years that I’ve been in ministry, I’ve had phone calls from people who would agree with that last statement, but I just say, “This probably isn’t the church for you.”  Maybe someday they’ll change their minds.


Women have made great contributions throughout history and continue to do so. Where would we be without people like Clara Barton, a battlefield nurse during the U.S. Civil War and the founder of the Red Cross – a woman who demonstrated that women can make a difference? Or Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run for President of the United States? More recently, while she may never go down in history, my dear friend and Muslim sister Yasmin Dawson, co-founder of a local nonprofit, is probably doing more to help the people of Lompoc than anyone else in this small city. I’m honored to be a part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) because with the election of Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, we became the first mainline Protestant denomination in North America to have a woman in its top leadership position, and she was followed by our current General Minister and President, Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens. Both of whom I respect greatly. Finally, I hope I live to see the day when we have a caring and capable woman as President of these United States.


 

Rev. Mary Jo Bradshaw is a graduate of California State University Long Beach and Claremont School of Theology and currently serves as Senior Pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Lompoc. She is a proud mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and “Mama” to two sweet dogs.


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