By Bishop Rosemarie Wenner (Check out the full story!)
“Why do we need special ministries for women? Aren’t they well integrated? We even have a female bishop!”
I hear those comments in my Episcopal area. Some women say: “I am emancipated. I am done with gender questions!” In response to those statements I often tell my story. The United Methodist congregation where I learned to follow Christ was a tiny one where it was difficult to hide my gifts even though I was shy. I developed leadership skills in scouting ministries and was encouraged to preach for the first time when I was 17. Discerning what to study at university, I realized that I would love to learn more about God, Jesus, the Bible and the world.
Could it be that I was called to study theology in order to become a pastor? I struggled with that question.
All the pastors I knew were men. The first woman who had been a candidate for the ordained ministry in our conference happened to be a friend of mine. She encouraged me to follow God’s call at each stage in my journey. After seminary, I was the first woman in every one of my appointments. Several worshippers in my congregations had never before heard a sermon from a female preacher. For most of them that was just a new thing. They tested me, and I passed the exam. Some struggled with questions of Biblical interpretation, especially 1 Corinthians 14:34: “Women should be silent in churches.” So I shared my faith story and led Bible studies.
See the full story, part of a blog of women’s stories for Women’s History Month.
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner is president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. She studied theology at The United Methodist Theological Seminary in Reutlingen (Germany) and was ordained as an elder in 1981. She was appointed a District Superintendent in 1996 and has been a bishop since 2005, the first woman elected in the UMC outside the United States. She leads 60,000 church members in the Germany Central Conference.