It’s International Women’s Day! The United Nations designated this day in part, to examine the struggles of women worldwide in a hopeful manner. In my role as World Vision Church Advisor for Eastern Ontario, it has been my privilege to work closely with many exceptional women in ministry learning about their experiences first hand. Today, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight and celebrate just a few of these remarkable women from the church!
Paving the Way…
Rev. Maryann Skinner of First United Church in Port Credit began her ministry at a young age and expressed gratitude for those women ministers who came before her. “It has meant that for me to be respected as one who proclaims the Word is not such an uphill battle.” Rev. Maryann drew inspiration from a high school minister, Dale Cuff who was one of the first female postulants in the Anglican Church.
When asked about advice for other women in the church, Rev. Maryann added, “Women can best move forward in ministry as our culture shifts and encourages people of all walks of life to embrace the true purpose for which we were created; to love life and relationship with God and with one another.”
Mentorship is Key!
Pastor Judith McCartney, began her ministry in 1984 and has been in the ministry for over 30 years. She currently serves at Soul House in Scarborough. Judith believes mentoring young women in ministry is key. “As a woman in ministry, I feel I add a diversity to the landscape.”
My gender, my giftings and my experiences bring something different to the community.” There are many empowering opportunities for women in ministry today – opportunities to learn academically through reading, taking courses and being mentored. She feels that we learn a great deal as individuals when we serve.
Breaking Down Barriers…
Cindy Westacott is on the pastoral staff at Benadal Bible Chapel and brings another voice. She has been in pastoral ministry for over 29 years and has seen many changes in her church. When she started at Benadal in 1974, women were encouraged to wear hats during the service and where not permitted to speak during communion.
Today, women have the freedom to share their testimonies, speak and pray freely in communion, lead worship service, chair the teaching service as well as serve on the Board of Directors! Within her denomination, however, women are not allowed to preach or to take on the position of Elder.
She adds, “Seize every opportunity that God brings your way in the area of spiritual giftedness and do not focus on the barriers. Instead, pray and speak up for change when God prompts you. But do so with integrity and respect so that your testimony and your ministry for God’s Kingdom is not damaged.”
This International Women’s Day, seek out the women leaders in your church and thank them for their contributions! Women bring a unique experience and ability to ministry. I believe the future of the church looks bright with such strong, intelligent and capable women in church leadership roles.
Happy International Women’s Day!