Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Will the “real” preacher please stand?

Life in rural Pennsylvania is more conservative than I ever imagined. Discriminations that had been tested in Colorado continue to be part of my life here. Being female is one example. In Colorado, I was a member of a service club that had just admitted females --- much against their collective wills. (There were no racial minorities even though Hispanics are the majority ethnic group.) The club allowed me in and rarely made comments in my hearing about females. I was not only the only female member, but also probably the only Democrat; their comments ridiculed my politics and our President. Often the brunt of disparaging comments, they always made loud enough for me to hear. Sometimes, my friends in the club stood up for me, but they to be careful who they went against. Eventually, it was time for me to leave that club because their meeting day no longer worked for me. I resigned and joined another club that met on a different day. The new club had many women, as well as a variety of political and social views all of which reminded me that bigotry in any form can be situational.

My association with the new Colorado club was delightful and made me want to repeat the experience here. One of the first organizations I joined was the local branch of this service club. It took awhile to be invited to join.

Last week at my new service club, I overheard the following posed to the visiting pastor of a local church “If you join, then we will have a real pastor as part of this club.” I was sitting three seats away and don’t know if the comment was made so that I would overhear. I do know that the speaker knows I am a pastor because (I recently learned) there was a question when my name was considered for membership -- some in the club were worried that as a new member, a liberal pastor, I would be too (fill in a word here: liberal … female … self-assured … independent … pick you own word). The club members had to have a lengthy discussion about my desire to join the club without having met me or talked with me. I had to write and submit an essay about myself to a committee, who circulated it around the club. Not one new member since has circulated such a statement. There are other females in the group, so my gender is not the issue – could only be my occupation: New Church Planter.

Sometimes when things get tough, I am tempted to quit, to leave here, to go back home. But not this time. Right now, I am determined to stay and be more than they think. Let them get to know that I am ethical, keep my word and pull my weight. When I have them all convinced that the real preacher is keeping on and keeping up, then I can collect my pride and leave if I choose. We will see what happens when that time comes.

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