Local pastor connects religion to feminism

Sisam Shrestha

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“Just like there’s room for improvement in the society, there’s room for improvement in the church,” Megan Kirk said after attending last week’s Pink Bag Lecture by local pastor George Wortham.

Kirk, a senior public relations major, attended the “The Role of Women within Authentic Christianity” as it is part of this semester’s feminist series on campus.

Wortham focused his talk on the chronological changes brought in by the early “Jesus Movement” and how it revolutionized society. The Jesus Movement rejected the patriarchal Roman society structure and the orthodox Jewish views which banned women from touching holy books.

“The heart of the Jesus Movement was the freedom of God and the outpour of holy spirit. It overturned any hierarchical or patriarchal understanding of the society,” Wortham said.

Wortham said that before the movement, meaning before Jesus Christ began to teach, women were considered almost as low as slaves.

“They didn’t speak and were separated from the men. After the movement, they were able to do things that men were able to do,” Kirk said.

Wortham used St. Brigit of Kildare, Ireland as a reference to depict womens’ leadership roles in the church. Brigit, the female patron saint of  Ireland, was a part of the Celtic churches, which were not hierarchical. During her term as an abbess, Brigit had both male and female monastic orders under her authority.

Although women have been a big part of religion for ages, today many still see men dominating the religious scene.

“In some church denomination, men have more control and women are not allowed to be pastors whereas in others they are allowed. I think it really depends on the denomination,” Kirk said. “I never had a female pastor. I had Sunday school teachers who were female but they had small roles,” Kirk added.

Monika Paneru, a sophomore computer science major, said that she is not Christian, but she has heard of several male saints. However, she only learned of the female saints through Wortham’s lecture.

Today, I came to know about some female saints and their significant roles in the church, which surprised me. I think womens’ roles aren’t as publicized or glorified as their male counterparts’ because of which they are often left in the shadows,” Paneru said.

Wortham concluded that more female recognition and involvement is necessary in the church and in all of life.

“We can no longer ignore the reality that we are all interconnected on this planet by a biological, physical way… A shift in the feminine mind, in our time, is not just a possibility. But if we were to survive as a species, it’s a necessity,” Wortham said.

The Pink Bag Lectures are a part of this semester’s feminism series and is sponsored by Femhawks. The next Pink Bag Lecture will be presented on April 7.