Our event ‘Grace Collective Presents: Gender Equality’ happened last week and I can’t quite put into words what happened…but bear with me as I try.
I went to bed the on Tuesday the 26th of July at about 10pm freaking out. Crave, our venue, has about 50 seats, maybe 60 at a push, and we never completely fill them. When I fell asleep we had 75 people coming according to Facebook, and even if we only had 60 turn up, we would still be struggling to squeeze them in. As the co-ordinator of the Grace Collective, I was losing sleep over this.
I woke up on the 27th of July and did my usual, millennial, groggy FB scroll and dropped my phone on my face when I opened up the app. 85 attending, our event page now read. How on earth were we going to manage this?
Long-story-short, by 5pm there were 100 people attending on Fb, and counting. People turned up an hour early to get seats. We estimate that around 100 people showed up on the night. Two groups of people sat on the floor. One of our volunteers jumped on the till to help the Crave barista manage the volume of hipsters like me wanting a Flat White. We went through three laptops to get the PowerPoint to work. Couldn’t find the remote to turn on the projector. Didn’t get to sound check our musician. And yet the Spirit of God filled the room with Her fruit of love, joy, patience, and peace as Christ’s Body gathered. And somehow none of the complications mattered anymore.
We were talking about a significant issue for our time. Many people hold to the belief Scripture tells woman to be silent and submissive, and still many others are all for gender equality but don’t know how to articulate why from the Bible. Gender issues still plague church and society in 2016 NZ.
So God’s people gathered together, and God’s love filled the room. A stillness, a peace, came over the cafe. Grace filled our conversations, and people listened and were listened to. We were, as we always try to be, a Collective of Grace.
For those that missed it, Rev. Dr. Sarah Harris tackled 1 Timothy 2, showing how Paul’s letter is not timelessly calling woman not to teach in church, but is speaking into a particular issue in a particular church. In fact, Paul is actually encouraging them to learn so that they might be equipped, like men, to be teachers and preachers of God’s Good News.
Pastor and Chaplain, Amanda Pilbrow, gave a spoken word on gender inequality today, spitting fire and bringing the heat. “I’m here to shake you up a little bit”, she said. And shake us up she did. She ended, poignantly, on a salute to those of us men who have already “crossed the floor…and surrendered…ground.” If a pin dropped, all 100 of us would have heard it.
Finally, Alex Johnston, a young-adult from the Anglican community took the mic to answer the question in everyone’s mind: “So where to from here?”
“1. Be a feminist”, he said.
“2. Be intentional about gender equality at work, Uni, and church.”
“3. Actively give women opportunities given to you or look for opportunities to give women which are otherwise given to you.”
And to that, many of us from a wide array of traditions, convictions, positions, and opinions, said “Amen.”
As you ponder, dig deeper, read more, and continue to discuss issues of gender equality, Jesus, scripture and the church over your preferred beverage in your preferred place, may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds, and remain with you always, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jeremy is the Grace Collective coordinator and voluntary youth leader at the Cedar Centre in Beachhaven. He studies at Carey Bible College, reads, writes poetry, and loves a good boogie on a Friday night. You can email Jeremy about anything GC related at JHarris@auckanglican.org.nz.