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Promoting women in ministry

"Those Preaching Women", a five-week series at Christ Anglican Church featuring seven female lay ministers, begins next weekend.

Reverend Jamaine Tucker came up with the idea of sharing his pulpit with Grace Rawlins, April Simmons, Frances Spring, Nathalie Barnett-Dill, Jennie Foster Skelton, Anne Hines and Shirene Fulton, while he is off on vacation from January 23 to February 20.

“The idea came from something I saw promoted by Rev Emily Gail Dill in the AME church a few years ago. She has been a major advocate for women in ministry,” said Mr Tucker, the priest in charge at the Devonshire church.

Promoting women for church leadership roles: Reverend Jamaine Tucker (File photograph)

“Women in ministry exists in our church but we haven’t always given women the platform to lead – particularly in the Anglican Church of Bermuda. This fact has given me reason to pause and reflect.”

In considering the ways social injustice has influenced the church, Mr Tucker clearly sees that gender inequality and patriarchal attitudes have permeated the culture.

“I cannot ignore what I see here. There’s no one in particular who is at fault, but the question is now: What can I do about it? What can we collectively do about it?

“I realised that if I wanted to be transparent and intentional about helping those who are vulnerable, this has to extend beyond economic and racial inequality and also address the struggle that women in ministry have as result of gender inequality in the church.”

He continued: “I had an epiphany when I went to graduate school for seminary and saw how many women were in my class and how many were already so accomplished but the only thing keeping these ladies on the back side of the opportunities in ministry was the fact that they are women.”

In Bermuda, as in many western countries, women drive the church ministry but leadership is often still dominated by men.

Said Mr Tucker: “We still have the secular culture of male domination. That is a part of who we are and something we have to work through. But there has to be the intention and strategic plan to change this mindset. We have a responsibility to acknowledge what is and move us forward.

“Women have been outnumbering men in the church for a long time and some women have refused to be defined by what is historically acceptable and have challenged the status quo. As a church we have a responsibility to support them.”

It is with this sentiment that Mr Tucker decided to use the opportunity he had to highlight women from various Anglican churches on the island and provide a platform for them to lead.

“Simply put, we are about to more aggressively promote women in ministry for the Anglican Church of Bermuda. In my opinion, it’s way past time to recognise, uplift and, where possible, license and ordain qualified women for service.

“I’m thrilled that 100 per cent of the five-week Sunday series of 'Those Preaching Women' is filled with female Anglican preachers. These are women who have demonstrated an ability to share the word of God with clarity, spiritual insight and passion. Most are lay readers and/or graduates of the first cohort of St Mellitus Bermuda.”

In 2017 The Anglican Church of Bermuda launched a theological training programme in collaboration with St Mellitus College. Several women have graduated from the programme over the last four years, and many have been subsequently licensed for lay ministry.

Mr Tucker is eager to see how the church will move towards a more gender equal model of leadership and excited for Christ Church to take a step towards that.

“We need for the church to evolve as the broader culture is evolving. The church is struggling, and we need all the support we can get. Women play a vital role in our survival, just like youth, seniors and other groups," he said.

“I want us to be able to acknowledge where we are and move in a direction to secure the roles of women in the Anglican Church of Bermuda. I’m at a church that can do something to give women the opportunity to grow and thrive in their ministry. Christ Church is going to play a major part in seeing this through.”

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Published January 15, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated January 17, 2022 at 8:12 am)

Promoting women in ministry

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