Women in Leadership

By John Ellis

I had a weekend that seemed to develop a theme of women in leadership.

On the Friday I was part of lively email correspondence around the papers that the Convener of our Faith and Order Committee, the Revd Elizabeth Welch, is preparing for the next meeting of Mission Council. These pick up the discussion at the last meeting on the future of the United Reformed Church.

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Trinity URC, Bromley

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The Revds Nicola Furley-Smith, Helen Warmington and John Proctor

Its future in Bromley looked more secure after the new combined pastorate of the two town centre URC fellowships welcomed their new minister, the Revd Helen Warmington. It was a privilege to participate in her ordination. Both churches have female Church Secretaries. The Saturday afternoon service was led by the Southern Synod Moderator, the Revd Nicola Furley-Smith while the Acting Principal of Westminster College, the Revd John Procter, preached a challenging sermon reflecting on the promise to “live a holy life”.

On Sunday afternoon I reached Sutton Coldfield, north of Birmingham, in time to have an impromptu tour of the recently refurbished premises of the town centre URC by one of its leading ladies, Thelma Hadley. Then I walked round the corner to the Baptist Church which was hosting the Induction Service of the new General Secretary of the Baptist Union, the Revd Lynn Green. Sutton Coldfield Baptist Church has over 500 members and uses a converted school for their premises, which ensured plenty of space for a large congregation from all around the country. The worship style was a contrast with the previous afternoon at Bromley but it was the same God who was worshipped.

In her description of her spiritual journey, Lynn told us that when as a child she first felt God calling her to work in the Church, her immediate reaction was to query what a woman could be called to do. One hopes that children growing up today within the Baptist and URC communities would find it natural to believe God is as likely to need women as men to be leaders.

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