In Gratitude for Women who Run WithThe Spirit

I am very grateful for so many thing this season, and right at the top of the list is the cloud of women witnesses who have nourished my faith from birth.

I come from a strong Southern matriarchal family, a grandmother named Mary, a Bible teacher par excellence,  and my mother and her three sisters–formidable, hospitable, always at work in the fields of the Lord. There were three missionaries on the bunch, one of whom pastor’s wife, which in those days meant doing much of the pastoral work, and one was an active lay person. always ready to give a hand for those who needed a ride or those who needed convalescence. All of them held their faith with conviction and were faithful to the end of their lives. I could not have had more powerful exemplars.

When I was a young person, the women around me, my church friends, created the container in which we, not counted among the cool and popular, could struggle and reinforce our  budding faith journeys by sharing our teenage woes and joy, by listening together to Scripture, by being immersed in faith practices together. We had each other to bounce off our confusion, our resistances, our epiphanies of Spirit, although we would not have had those words in our vocabulary yet. That legacy was carried on into college in the women of Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, who at some basic levels, although not too many public ones, entrusted leadership to women and invited them to mentor us as college students. In those years it was these women of Spirit with whom I could hash out the broken places, the questions that seemed opaque, and the questions of life direction.

In all these years of participating in the Church, I received teaching and information from many wise and caring men. However, when as a young mother I was introduced to a broader vision of women’s roles in the Church and home through Evangelical Women’s Caucus (now Ecumenical), I began to see a new dimensions of women in the Church–women who preached, women who taught mixed forums, women who had both sacred callings as well as a calling to home and family. The theological underpinnings of that vision from both  women and men both in those years-writers like Letha Scanzoni, Nancy Hardesty, Virginia Mollenkott, Paul Jewett, Don Williams–all clarified my faith and gave it deeper understanding. The crucible in which I worked out those understandings was the company of women who also caught that vision, as we discerned the directions in which the Spirit was leading us.

I was led along a clear an straight path to ordination as a Minister of Word and Spirit in the Presbyterian Church (USA). There were not many of us, more than the generations before us, and we learned from one another, and watched as one became a seminary professor, one became a head of staff of a larger church , one became a solo pastor in a rural community, and one became a denominational executive. I discovered that even when we did not all become intimate friends, we contributed in each other to the community wisdom that helped us see what God was doing in the world and in us. And it was blessed!

Now in my next phase of ministry, I have gathered with a group called the Ammas for the last nine years. We meet monthly, keep connected on Facebook and on e-mail in-between, in prayer, in study, is presence to one another. We have been and are going through losses of spouses. moving from place to place, illnesses and disappointments and wonderful surprises. The Spirit keeps forming us, teaching us, comforting us and connecting us.

In this season of gratitude, I thank this band of spiritually adventuresome women whose running alongside me has helped and is helping me become what I was meant to be from the beginning!

 

Elizabeth Nordquist who blogs at Patheos.com offers gratitude for the forming power of women of faith in her spiritual journey.

 

 

 

About Elizabeth Nordquist

Elizabeth Nordquist is a Presbyterian pastor, teacher, and spiritual director who writes on women's issues, spirituality and Scripture, and what is happening in the world--hers, her neighborhood, the Church and the world. Each day she looks for ways in which the Spirit is moving in and around her.

  • Donald L. Smith

    And I am grateful for YOU, Elizabeth!

  • Jan Gough

    And I KNOW I am not alone in my gratitude to you, dear friend, for awakening in me my own Call to Ministry… a Call I could not clearly hear until I saw a version of it embodied in you. Particularly in this seasonI cherish the Thanksgivings we shared with our then-young families, and carry their sustaining essence of gratitude with me daily (minus the oyster stuffing… there CAN be too much of a good thing!!)

  • Halcyon Peterson

    And you’ve been there for me all these years, Elizabeth. Even recently when we are so far separated by space, I don’t feel we are separated in spirit. You have been one of the best examples to me of what a woman should and can be. Bless you always, and THANK YOU!! Halcyon

  • http://thombutler.com Thom

    To that glorious list of EWC people you mentioned, I always add both Elizabeth Nordquist, and her husband John.

    YOU are at the top of my list of women who run with the spirit for whom I am grateful in this, and every other season.

  • ellie

    Eliazbeth, Not only do you show me the path that is available for women today, but you show me how I can travel it “in my own way” and be a lay woman following a non-career path of joy and faith. Time marches on so quickly, 2 careers in my life have made me what I am today. Midway through the second career here came Elizabeth. In retirement I thank you God for her and I thank her for the amazing friend she is and the things she gives to me and the things she teaches me. Life is so much better with Elizabeth in it. Now I am so grateful for the new Elizabeth, the blogger! I know the energy it takes Elizabeth. Please “keep on blogging.


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