Apparently HFASS is an example of the horrible things that go wrong when women become pastors

Apparently HFASS is an example of the horrible things that go wrong when women become pastors February 13, 2012

Yesterday afternoon I received an email from a friend of a friend who said that my name and church are being tossed around by some LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod – they don’t ordain women) types (again) as an example of all the horrible things that go wrong when women become pastors.

Apparently  there are some who are just appalled by the chocolate fountain in the baptismal font picture on my church’s website.

The writer of the email was kind.  She wanted to hear from me about why we would do this rather than joining the others in rending their clothes and gnashing their teeth about it.

Here is my answer:

Having buried the Alleluia on Transfiguration Sunday and entered into the 40 days of Lent (remembering our mortality and sin)…as a community we walk through the paschal mystery of the Three Days.  We gather to remember the night our Lord was betrayed unto death and yet washed the feet of those whom he loved, and having Friday experienced the death of God on the cross on which hung the savior of the whole world, we gather on Holy Saturday to tell one another the great salvation history of God and God’s people. We finally finally finally enter the church singing Alleluia and baptize the catechumens as a celebration of the great and glorious resurrection of Jesus.  For us there is no better symbol of Easter – nothing says “He is risen” like  a chocolate fountain in the baptismal font.  It is a celebration of pure joy and not one we would ever suggest is right for all churches but for us it is life.

I offer you this as you are a friend of a friend.  But I am called by the gospel and am in no way answerable to those in the LCMS who would deny the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
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  • “I am called by the gospel and am in no way answerable to those in the LCMS who would deny the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

    I love this. Blessings on you and your ministry.

    • Me too! Right on, preacher!

  • Nadia, I am so sorry that things like this happen to you and to other women called by God to serve his people. Like my son-in-law (Alastair Newman) I have been ministered to, and blessed by, the ministry of women who offer their God given gifts back to God’s church.

    Given that those who object to women in ministry usually do so by quoting Scripture I wonder where in the Bible they find anything about chocolate fountains in the baptismal fonts? To me such a wonderful expression of joy is totally in place during a service of thanks and praise to God.

  • Amen.

  • Geez, these people must hate all things good and fun! How much better can one get than a chocolate font?? We should begin baptizing in chocolate… well, wait a bit, that might just get carried away! Didn’t the early Episcopalian’s of Virginia use whiskey barrels to baptize infants? At least you aren’t doing THAT! ;))

    Blessings to you and yours, Nadia!

    • tricksterson

      What’s wrong with baptizing in chocolate? but only if it’s adult baptism because it would be wroong to lick the chocolate off an infant.

  • I think I have to agree that something has gone entirely wrong with that fondue in the baptismal. If my eyes are not deceiving me, the color of the chocolate indicates that it is “milk chocolate.” If women pastors mean that fondue is going to be milk instead of dark, then I need to reevaluate my stand on this subject.

  • Peter


    I’m sure you have had worse, and I know you are secure in your faith – but to some degree those comments must hurt.

    For what it’s worth, I’m sorry. And I entirely agree with your answer.

    Bless you!

  • Raymond Wells

    God’s morning Nadia,
    Just needed to let you know that at all the Lenten studies I facilitate I ensure that fine dark chocolate is served at break time. The presence of chocolate is mentioned in all advertising about the study. If people want to give up something for Lent I encourage the sacrifice of something that divides people.

    • Using chocolate as God intended. Milk chocolate is an abomination. I am sure there is a passage about it in Leviticus.

      • Chocolate should indeed be milk-less but it should also be produced in a way that is good for creation. I prefer to buy fairly traded organic dark chocolate and the problem of choosing if I can only get fairtrade or organic can leave me standing there for ages!
        Of course dark chocolate over 70% cocoa helps fight depression so I ‘have’ to eat half a bar a day.

  • There are many things I might say, but I’ll leave it at this:

    “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt 5:11-12

    Keep making the Gospel real, Nadia.

  • Katie

    My Vicar in England recessed our Easter service with a HUGE basket of Cadbury cream eggs. Best Easter ever.

  • Katie

    Sorry, forgot to m

  • Katie

    Mention she is a woman

  • “I am called by the gospel…”

    Maybe so; but one thing you are not called by God to be is pastor. (cf. 1 Timothy 2:12)

    • Michael

      It’s a shame Paul (or whoever actually wrote 1 Timothy) was so sexist. He does, however, mention that he himself doesn’t permit a woman to teach–not God. God doesn’t seem to have had a problem with a woman being in leadership over the entire nation of Israel (ie, Deborah) so I fail to see why he would be threatened by allowing a woman to lead a congregation.

      By the way, Paul himself sends greetings to women (in other books) who seem to be leaders of house churches, which may be one more reason to wonder if Paul really wrote this book or if somebody with a narrower outlook wrote it for him.

      • Steve Horwatt

        I was going to raise that point, as well. I was raised (and remain) in the United Methodist church, which has been ordaining women since the late 1950’s (which was before I was born, so it feels like forever, even though in the grand scheme of things it’s not that long). In the late 1970’s (when I was in my early teens), my small prim and proper suburban church got a pastor we weren’t really ready for–a divorced woman who had been a public defender before she went to seminary and entered the ministry. But she is one of the people who changed my life. Even though I think I may have heard her cuss once or twice.
        Pull out as many verses as you want; no one could ever convince me that she wasn’t called by God to be our pastor.

  • Liz Williams

    I wonder what the reaction would have been if the minister had been a man? Would that have been blamed on gender, denomination, politics, race, left handed or right handed, hair color, eye color, hymnal color, etc.?

  • If everyone and every church likes what you are doing, than you are probably not doing anything with any meaning. Being bold means some people will definitely dislike you very much. I like you very much. God Bless you!

    • Bill

      “If everyone and every church likes what you are doing, than you are probably not doing anything with any meaning.”

      No doubt.

  • Setting up a chocolate fountain in a baptismal font is the least of my concerns with you and your ministry. Your role in advocating for the “blessing” of the sin of homosexuality is much greater a concern.

    You can slather yourself with chocolate or tattoos all day long for all I care, it is your departure from the Word of God and what it teaches about homosexuality, not to mention who knows what other novel approaches you take to Christian doctrine that is the real issue.

    • Riz

      Finally! A voice of reason on this blog! I’ve met this woman. My suspicion is that she also wears garments made of multiple materials (Leviticus 19:19). I think we should take her to the edge of town and stone her.

      • Michael

        I think Leviticus has some condemnation about tattoos as well. Not that I want to cast the first stone. As a church organist with 20-800 vision, I approach the altar of the Lord with a defect in my sight every week. Don’t tell anybody–I’m hoping God won’t notice, or I could be in big trouble.

        • Riz

          Heathens! Away with you all!

      • tarankon

        Ya know, the argument could be made that poly-cotton IS the work of Satan. I don’t have a whole lot of other explanation for it.

    • Bill

      I wonder how the early follower of Christ ever got along, Pastor, without a rule-book to keep them straight. Oh. they were ust following Christ’s teachings about love… that must be it.

    • Ken Markert

      You effortlessly condemn my son. You have never met him. Of this I am sure, if scripture and God teach clearly what you espouse, then God and the Scriptures are both wrong. Walk in my families shoes for a while before you condemn us.

  • carol

    Nadia, I don’t live in your area so I can not attend your church – but I would if I did! You minister to ME thru your blog, and the members of HFASS are fortunate to have you as pastor.

    Keep the Faith (and your chin up!).

    • Kim

      I am so fortunate to have a great church; but if I lived in Denver I would definitely go to HFASS too!

  • Friend Nadia,
    Following the Spirit of the risen Christ makes one extremely vulnerable to personal attack and criticism. That can hurt and I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. Sometimes being faithful to the gospel has to be enough, because at those times it’s all we can cling to. Please continue to do so.

  • One of the things I value so much that I received in the pastoral care of Nadia is that certain battles are futile in their pursuit. I can be mad at Evangelicals all day for the perceived injustice I experienced under their faith umbrella or I can extend them the very grace that God freely gives us all. Sometimes it’s easier to express aggravation at a broken system and to pick on those who endorse that brokenness as truth, than it is to extend grace. In her pastoral role, Nadia reminded me that grace, though difficult to extend, always wins. In turn, I want to affirm that Nadia is a pastor who loves people and comes alongside all sinners and saints because that’s what Christ’s work on the cross has called her to do as a pastor. Following her pastoral example, I will extend grace to the misguided proof-texting that would ever deny her gifts for pastoral leadership. God’s grace is sufficient for the LCMS and the anti-egalitarian comments on this post. It’s in my nature to be less than gracious to Christians, like the ones who say Nadia is not a pastor, but, as my pastor, Nadia challenged me to do otherwise. Thank you Nadia for your invaluable pastoral leadership. 🙂

  • lewis

    From the perspective of someone baptized, schooled and raised in the LCMS, but left once an adult: I think I just broke rib laughing.

  • Terri C

    Episcopalians baptizing infants in whiskey barrels? Say it isn’t so! At least assure me the whiskey was well aged and a fine blend… I love the chocolate fountain! For pure joy as good as the youtube clip of a baby elephant frolicking in a kiddie pool and far easier to incorporate in worship!

  • Debbi

    Amen sister, AMEN! Alleluia.
    PS I don’t even like chocolate (that’s another form of sin to some!)

  • A chocolate baptismal font promises the sweet and abundant life offered to those who would trust in Jesus and walk in his teachings. As a pastor, I love the image. Unfortunately, many in the institutional church have made entry into the body cold, sterile, hard, and distilled rather than life-giving water.

  • Mary Munson

    Chocolate Easter Bunny Sacrafice: The blood of the bunny.

  • Sonya Hansen

    Your grace and humor and faith are an inspiration to me. Thank you

  • D.E. Bishop

    I am an ELCA pastor and a woman. I’m a big fan of HFASS and Pastor B-W.

    That said, the chocolate fountain does make me uncomfortable. I wouldn’t do it in my rural SD churches with my congregations. It would detract from our worship because the congregants would be too busy focusing on the chocolate and many would be aghast.

    I don’t think it’s wrong. It would not be effective in my churches, but it seems to be effective at HFASS, so good for all of you there.

  • In the LCMS Church I was baptized in, only Milk chocolate was allowed for liturgical purposes.