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  • Love Gifts...

    During the conference, we were invited to make a bookmark which, at its end, would be gifted to another woman. 

    As you may expect, some of us happily dived in and began stitching and sticking, designing and decorating.  others shrank back in terror, claiming to be useless at sewing, having not a creative bone in their bodies.  Most, but not all, created a book mark, and, of those, most were submitted for sharing.

    It's no surprise to anyone that I had lots of fun and, in the end, contributed five bookmarks (three of them are in this photo, but I'm not saying which).

    As it happens, the one I was given is in the photo and, by chance, I know who made it.  From what we shared over the conference, I know a little more of her story and of the love with which she created her bookmarks (she also made more than one).

    For me, the exercise was worth deep reflection... on our fear of failure, our confusion of excellence with value, of the potential inweaving of self with creating (whether it's poetry, sewing, music, art, accountancy or cooking dinner), or the love that covers over a multidude of bodged stitches, wrong notes, soggy bottoms and arithemtic errors.

    It's curious, isn't it, how parents and grandparents delight in wonky drawings and overly-iced cakes given by children, yet as adults we demand perfection from one another.  Thank goodness God is parent not peer - delighting in our endeavours, putting our metaphorical pictures on the equally metaphorical heavenly fridge door, and telling the angels, 'yes, so-and-so did that, isn't it good....'

    I will treasure the bookmark I was gifted, less for what it 'is', though it is lovely, and more for what it 'means'.

  • Honouring Violet, and Edith and each other...

    A century since the first ordained woman Baptist minister was recognised by the Bpatist Union Britain, around fifty Baptist women in ministry (ordained, in training, lay and even one or two 'not sure it's OK') gathered in Birmingham for an event to share, celebrate and encourage one another.

    It was a truly wonderful couple of days in which we worshipped together, listened to each other, learned from one another, reflected together, crafted bookmarks as gifts for each other and shared cake.

    Violet Hedger and Edith Gates are the two women to whom we trace our twentieth centruy roots (early Baptists had lots of women in ministry, then they gotorgansied and shut them up!), the two giantesses upon whose shoulders we all stand.  So, the violet/purple theme reflects Violet's name, and it is good, very good, that she is honoured as the first woman who was able to complete study at a Baptist college - paying her own exam fees at a time when men had theirs paid for them.

    I wanted to been part of the conference, yet I was a little wary - I was not alone.  Fears of tokenism, presuppositions about theology and spirituality... all of these were named at various points.

    Perhaps it sounds daft to say that I was glad I hardly knew anyone there - but it was a good, healthy, sign that there are now so many more women in ordained, and other recognised, ministries.  It was good to see women in the 20s and 30s, as well as 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.  It was good to have hair in all colours from white and gry, through black, auburn, brown and blond to fuschia and turquoise!  It was good to meet charismatics and contemplatives, introverts and extroverts, those from radical, affirming and welcoming churches and those from more conversative churches, evanglicals and liberals... and all saying 'we delight in this diversity'.

    I liked that it wasn't just a talking shop, but that we promised each other that we would do something more... so I'm stating here, so I can't wriggle out of it, that I have promised to go with the women in NWBA as they take this forward with their RMs, and that I will take it forward here in Scotland where I am still the anomaly. 

    It was good - and the work goes on...

  • This view, this place...

    I'm staying at the BMS International Mission Centre (IMC) in Birmingham.  I come here three times a year for meetings and very occasionally I stay over for one reason or another.

    It's a lovely place, and, for many missionary friends, the place they lived and trained before going overseas.

    Whilst I have no significant links to the place, whenever I arrive here from Glasgow, having walked up the hill from Selly Oak station, I call to mind the former BMS missionary who was part of the Gathering Place, and who would tell me tales of arriving late, even later than the late pass she was granted coming from Glasgow, and climb in through a back window...

    So, as I enjoy the view from my 'back window' and a day in this place of learning, love and laughter, I will recall JD.  And I guess I leave a 'footprint' of my own as one of the countless people who pass through this place engaged in the Missio Dei is one way or another.

    Time now for breakfast, and then the conference begins!