Are We Being Sexist, Racist, Ageist? Or Not?

Racism ArtPart of my job involves staffing the Commission on Preparation for Ministry – the commission that shepherds seminarians through the ordination process.  And I get these kinds of phone calls:

Caller #1:  I’m concerned that the CPM is prejudiced against second-career-women because our church member is having a hard time in your process.

Me:  Actually, she was having a hard time because she could not articulate her call.  There are several other second-career women who have articulated their call and are flying through the process.

Caller #2:  I’m concerned that the CPM is prejudiced against theologically conservative candidates.  Our church member is feeling like he cannot share who he really is because you will object to his conservative theology.

Me:  Actually, we are holding him back because he rolled his eyes when we asked him about eschatology.  We have several theologically conservative candidates and one of the reasons they are flourishing through the process is because they are theologically humble.

Caller #3:  I’m concerned that the CPM have problems with racial-ethnic minorities.  They are treating non-white candidates disrespectfully and asking them to do extraordinary requirements.

Me:  Actually, many of our racial-ethnic candidates are having no problems getting through the process.  The ones who are moving more slowly are slowed down because they are asking for exceptions with every requirement and they are not turning in their papers on time.

It’s a new week and I’m starting it off with the Commission Ministry early Monday morning.  As we try to discern how to best serve as gatekeepers and as shepherds, we want to be fair.  So are we being sexist/racist/ageist?  Or not?

As a friend – who is a woman of color – shared with me recently, “How do we know when we are being sexist/racist/ageist and how do we know when people are simply in need of more gate-keeping?”

I truly believe that we want to be fair as we discern others’ call to professional ministry.  What do you believe?

Image source.

3 responses to “Are We Being Sexist, Racist, Ageist? Or Not?

  1. I’m not suggesting that your CPM process exhibits any of these kinds of issues, but I thought I’d offer a counter perspective based on my vantage point as an inquirer.


  2. Amen. I knew too many people in seminary like you describe. I think churches tend to want to be supportive but aren’t generally equipped to be discerning. And the church would be better off if we could see how being discerning was the best way to be supportive. Putting the wrong person in parish ministry is bad for them and for the churches they serve.


  3. I think you are doing us a tremendous service hanging in there and playing the reality card to trump the victim card. Thanks Jan!!!!


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