Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I sound female!!

In Australia female ministers are still somewhat new. There aren't many of us.

In Baptist Churches in NSW there are only about 30 women in church based ministry and about 13 of us are ordained (women have only been allowed to be ordained for the past 5 years). This is out of 330 churches in NSW, so about 400 ministers.

All this to say when I answer the church phone the assumption isn't that they are talking to the minister. This week while the other minister was away the church phone way transferred to our house. I end up saying "no SS isn't here, I am the other minister can I help you" to which I usually get "Oh hi, what did you say your name was."

Well I got the best one a couple of days ago and it went something like this:

"Hi, _______ speaking"
"Hello Is SS there"
"No he's on leave at the moment, I'm the other minister here can I help you."
"You sound female!?!"
"That's probably because I am a female"
"Oh very good Umm And your a minister"
"and a female, right ahh Very good"
"Would you like to leave a message for SS"
Blah blah blah

The conversation then continued with him fumbling around still completely thrown that he was speaking to a female sounding minister, it took about 5 minutes to finally get his name and phone number out in a way that I could write down in order to pass on.

If I don't laugh I'll cry, Hopefully, me being female won't be such a shock that I hear the jaws of the people at the other end of the phone drop.

Either way it makes for good blog fodder




k8 said...

I was going to write something really sarcastic about stupid narrow-minded morons (in fact, I had it all typed out) but then got worried that my sarcasm wouldn't properly transfer. It went along the lines of me being shocked you were a girl :)

People are dumb. Gender has ZERO to do with how great a minister you are. And you are :)

Revem said...

You are still so encouraging even though you are now 1000's of km's away.

Thanks love ya heaps Em

will smama said...

Here is where it pays off:

Our sales calls frequently come in the afternoon - and you can usually tell - so when I answer and I hear, "Yes, is the pastor in?"

I can easily so, "Sorry, he/she/they (whichever one I feel like) is unavailable right now."
And sound absolutely believable.

Emily said...

I really have to bite my tongue when people call looking for help (as in money or food) and we have this conversation. "Can I speak to the pastor?" "I am the pastor." "No, can I speak to the pastor?"

Anonymous said...

On one of my first Sunday's an usher found a note on the pews after worship clearly written by one worshipper (a visitor) to anothe worshipper (a regular) which said, "Does that lady think she's the pastor?"

Blessings to you in Australia.

PJ said...

Strange, I just experienced something similiar here at my place: Sunday morning while preparing the elements for communion in the staff room at the ministry, a young woman wandered in. She asks, "Is the pastor here?" Yes, I'm the pastor. "Oh. You are?" Yes. "Well, what about the other guy, is he going to be in?" For the love of God!

And it is because we love God, right, that we do this week after week. And God loves us too-- loves our femaleness, girlness, and womanhood. In the midst of the near-constant sexual harrassment that happens at my place, it is difficult for me to remember that being a girl is good and blessed. And I like to think that being a woman does indeed contribute positively to my ministry here.

Revem, thank you for sharing your pain, frustration, and etc. I'm so happy to hear that there are women clergy in Baptist churches in NSW. Blessings to you.

lp said...

My husband & I co-pastor in rural MS. If I had a nickel for every time one of my own parishioners referred to me as the "Pastor's wife", I'd be a wealthy woman right now.

This is in an area where although women pastors are not the norm, we're also not unheard of (we are United Methodist). I can only imagine the frustration of being one of so few.

Thanks for sharing!

Sue said...

Oh my. Unfortunately, even in areas where there are plenty of female clergy, this is still all too common.

I can remember taking communion to the home of a parishioner in my first pastorate. We had a lovely visit, shared communion and when I was leaving she said, "Oh, and please say hello to the minister for me."


Caroline said...

They ask me if I am the pastor's daughter . . . or girlfriend. That always goes over well.

Bucket said...

Hey Chook, i think you are a great minister. You just gotta chuckle at the cluelessness of some people.

cats said...

my favorite is still confusing catholics who want to call me "sister" because they don't know what else to call me... even after i've said that i am pastor "cats."

Pink Shoes said...

All the brilliant comments have been taken, but I agree with them all. I also rarely wear a clergy shirt to the office, so people stopping by don't always think that I'm the pastor, and well, sometimes that's OK.... but usually it's not!

Revem said...

The place I was working at before becoming a minister had a large number of Catholics. When I said I was leaving to study to be a minister, my name changed to "Father" for the last three months of the job. They got I was becoming a priest but they had no female words for it.

Very amusing when walking up a corridor and someone would say "Father" and bow their head as they walked past. The confused looks on other peoples faces were priceless

A. Lin said...

In seminary, I was one of two women in a pastoral studies class about leadership and ministry. We talked about how the minister's spouse is sometimes seen as the "catch-all"--the person that does all the little things for the church without pay. I raised my hand and asked if that attitude would change if the pastor was a woman. I don't think it would be the same to expect the husband to be the "catch-all." The professor didn't really know how to respond to my comment. I guess he forgot there were women in the class.

I don't have a pastorate now, but I will someday. It will be fun to see reference to my spouse as the pastor's husband. And I guarantee you that they won't expect him to be the "catch-all" like pastor's wives are treated.

Sorry if this is just a ramble--something about the post and the comments here set me off. ;) I enjoy your blog.

Sally said...

I job share with my husband part time in rural ministry and part time in itinerant evangelism. One of the hardest things I've had to swallow was one "well meaning" man who acused me of stealing my husbands ministry, and being jealous when I should be happy in my role as wife!
Tim and I believe our ministries complement each other, we both fulfil roles the other could not.

Teri said...

I was serving as youth director (after having been the intern pastor) when the female pastor of the church left. During the search for an interim, the committee came up with all women candidates. One session member said, and I quote, "Aren't there any male pastors anymore? It would be so nice to have a real pastor."

They got a woman.

Mary Beth said...

Oh lord.

You keep it up Em! I think the realest pastors ARE women. So there.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for being there as a role model for people like me... I'm in seminary full-time AND a full-time mom. When people ask me "do you work?" I want to bop them (in Christian love, of course!)

What keeps me going is remembering that God has gifted me to DO this thing I'm called to. The church I'm serving in believes in me. The pastors I work with (1 woman and 3 men) affirm my gifts. It's the congregation (aka the "sheep") that struggle with it.

But your honesty and humor and helping me keep perspective more than you know...

Student Mommy