Guest Post: Rev. Megan Severns Huston
“My new office is by the band room” Mom said, as we talked over supper.
She had just started one of her first jobs in Southern Louisiana as an Assistant Principal of a rural middle school. The town was known for its long-standing relationship with the KKK, just to give you some sense of the place.
Sending her to such a remote location was one of many tactics by her male colleagues and superiors to bully her out of her field. No matter that mom had 22 years of tried and true experience in the classroom– her gender meant she had to work harder AND smarter than her male counterparts. And, apparently, in a remote location.
And so, these were the dinnertime conversations in my home growing up. I remember a day when we were packing my lunch in our crowded kitchen, and I was complaining because my friends –whose moms didn’t –work didn’t have to pack their own lunches. I was holding a bunch of green grapes in my hand.
“It’s because I want you and your sister to know that you can be whatever you want to be.” Mom said. “If you want to be a stay at home mom, you can. If you want to work outside the home, you can. And you might not understand it now, but it is important to me that I model that for you.”
Then she added for good measure, “Have you ever lacked for anything?” She smiled and kissed my forehead as I squirmed.
This weekend, when John MacArthur said that Beth Moore and all other women preachers should “just go home,” I took a minute to think about home, and what I learned there.
Just go home…
I was a seminary student. I was just visiting that Sunday and never had any plans to stay. I was doing pulpit supply and brought my boyfriend along for moral support.
The pulpit at First Christian Church Paris, Tennessee has two stairs leading up to it. The carpet is bright red, matching the carpet in the rest of the traditional sanctuary. Except, in the pulpit, the carpet hasn’t been tread upon quite so much. It was reserved for those holy moments between pastor and congregation where–unbeknownst to me– I would end up spending four years of Sundays diving into the scripture with that faithful church.
But the first time I stood there, with no intention of staying, I noticed that my feet sunk into the carpet. I noticed how deliciously squishy it felt.
I guess it felt like home.
Fast forward five years. I’d finished seminary; I was ordained; I’d married that boyfriend; and I was in discernment about my future. The church where I served as Associate Minister needed a new Senior Pastor, and I was a candidate. I found myself at lunch with a denominational leader–who proceeded me all the reasons I shouldn’t take the job. (It goes without saying, doesn’t it, that this leader was middle aged, white, and male?)
And when my resolve never wavered he finally added, “You know, I’m not sure if you and your husband plan to have kids. But I just don’t think the Senior Minister of this church can also be a mom. There are some things only a mother can do…”
Just go home.
So I did go home. Sort of.
I called my mom. And as I told her my story I felt her fury ignite. She, who had spent her life chipping away at the glass ceiling and now recognized it still stood, fully intact, in front of her own daughter.
Then I went home, to my actual house, and had a good cry. And I got up the next morning and continued my process of applying for the position that I currently hold– Senior Minister of First Christian Church Bowling Green, KY.
As the church voted on my call, shortly after that awkward, misogynistic lunch, I stood in the hallway with a visitor. He was home visiting his elderly mom and dad, and he recollected when his mom was nominated as the first female elder in our congregation. He said he will never forget it because several families left. It caused a split in the church. But it was a defining moment in that church’s history and in his own life, as he watched his mom stand up for what she believed in.
“They are so proud of you” he said, referring to his parents, who are now both saints of our church.
Just go home John MacArthur said this weekend. To Beth Moore. To all of us.
But I am here to tell you: as a daughter, wife, mother of two perfect little girls, and a preacher; as someone who has been raised to believe that I could be whatever I wanted to be; as a pastor who has done what all faithful ministers do and wrestled with this strange and wonderful calling; as someone who has been called as Senior Minister to two of the best churches I’ve ever known;
I am home.
And for any little girl who has a home that means being less than who she is, I will keep preaching a Gospel of love, equality and liberation. Because she deserves a home where she can be really seen, really loved and really respected as whole and holy.
So, John, you may have tried to bully, insult or mock Beth Moore, and women ministers in general. But I can assure you, this is not our first rodeo. We deal with people like you more often than we prefer to admit. May you someday find a home where you are free from the discrimination you so boldly proclaim. It must be such a burden to carry all that hate.
Bless your heart.
In the meantime, gotta run. It is time for me to get my sermon ready for Sunday, when I will preach to my justice-loving, all-people-welcoming, courageous congregation–a place I call home. I will be preaching on forgiveness. So I think I will start by praying for you.
Rev. Megan Severns Huston is the wife of a banjo playing stay-at-home dad and farmer (Willie), and the Senior Minister of First Christian Church of Bowling Green, Ky. She currently serves as a Tri Chair for the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Megan and her family live on 13 beautiful acres in Rockfield, Ky., and hope to leave their land better than they found it. Megan is motivated to find balance in her roles as mom and minister and sees her call to ministry rooted in community organizing, caring for people and preaching.