By Krista Dutt
Analyzing her current experience of patriarchy, Austin Channing Brown shares that sermons, hymns, and the prayers around her speak to “God as male, masculine, fighting, battling, winning”.[i] While this is not exactly my experience, I wonder if women in church leadership still ascribe to this mentality for leadership and power.
Is it a competition? Is it about battling? Is it about winning? I fear it is, but I hope not.
I confess that sometimes I think it is a competition for power and I like the idea of winning. More often I crave a sense of belonging and shared leadership, but recognize it is easier to “do hierarchy” because it’s clear and less messy. I also appreciate Iris De Leon –Hartshorn’s analysis of how power can be held by few in a priesthood of all believers model.[ii] But as a woman that has been in significant positions of power, I wonder how I might claim the power of a position and yet show an alternative way to use the power. What are ways that we can invite many to the table, and also have each invited, have power to speak, decide and empower others?
As women in leadership can we create safe spaces that identify power, share stories and then challenge the powerful? Our Stories Untold, “a blog created as a safe and open space to discuss sexualized violence within Christianity” is a good example of this type of leadership.[iii] What are other ways that powerful women in the Church could work to discover the power dynamics and sources in other issues and then be able to challenge that power through the process of discovery?
My hope is that All You Need is Love can be a safe space where many of these conversations and ideas can continue to grow into powerful streams of thought for the larger church, transforming it into a safer place for all God’s children.
[ii] Heinzekehr, Hannah. “The Hidden Power Traps in a Priesthood of All Believers.” The Femonite Musings from a Mennonite Feminist. N.p., 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2014: http://www.femonite.com/?s=Priesthood+of+All+Believers