December 1, 2021
I had the privilege of participating in the relaunch of the Wynkoop Center for Women in Leadership this past month. The Center hopes to be a hub for conversation, advocacy, academic research, resourcing, and more for women in ministry, the academy, and in the non-profit world. Although the event was cause for excitement and hope, the reality is that the road to equality for women in the Church continues to be a long one. (Watch the panel discussion Holiness and Leadership in the Church: Affirming Women in Our Ecclesial Structures and More here)
It seems prescient that the relaunch of the Wynkoop Center happened on the heels of Advent, a season of waiting, watching, and longing because, in many ways, God’s beloved daughters have mastered the art of waiting. In the Old Testament, we find Sarah, Rachel and Hannah waiting to become mothers, persevering through the trauma of barrenness. In the New Testament, Elizabeth’s struggle with childlessness echoes that of these ancient mothers in the faith. Of course, Mary’s pregnancy is the one this sacred season calls us to focus on as we wait with hope for what can be, and it should not go unnoticed that her song of praise points to the overturning of the old order of things:
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For God took notice of a lowly servant girl,
And from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy, and God has done great things for me.
God shows mercy from generation to generation, to all who fear God.
God’s mighty arm has done tremendous things!
God has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
God has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.
God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.
God has helped Israel and remembered to be merciful.
For God made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”
Although rife with hope, Mary’s song of praise and the season of Advent remind us that we live in the reality of the now and the not yet. Yes, Christ has come and transformed our world in so many ways, but much remains to be healed – especially for women. We continue to wait for sexism and inequality to be dismantled in our society and in the Church. We continue to wait for a seat at the table, for a voice in the rooms of power, for equal pay for equal work. Women have indeed mastered the art of waiting.
May this Advent season and the relaunch of the Wynkoop Center for Women in Leadership be a harbinger of new things to come – a time for the marginalized voices and contributions of our women ministers and leaders to finally and fully be seen, heard and valued.
Rev. Dana Preusch
Director of Contextual Education and Student Life