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Practicing Hospitality

Jemma Allen

The RevGals community is diverse. There are those who are primarily members as bloggers, and those whose primary connection to the organisation is our large and lively Facebook group (currently 7000 members, more than 6,000 of whom participate in the group with likes and comments each month). There are website followers, Big Event attenders, and newsletter subscribers. It is not just how we connect to the community that is diverse: we represent a diversity of denominations, vocations and locations around the world. One of the things that holds all that diversity together is our belief that God calls and equips women and non-binary folk for ministry. Mostly we do that in Christian settings, but our group also includes Buddhist, Jewish, Universalist and interfaith ministers.   

In the last year the expression of my ministry has really changed shape. I have gone from working in a lively Anglican parish to a ministry that is expressed by being a PhD student and a counsellor. That shift in the expression of my ministry doesn’t feel like a change of vocation, but without the more usual forms of church-based ministry I have been reflecting on what is at the heart of my vocation.

The image to which I return is hospitality. In Jesus we see welcome: to children, to the sick, to the marginalised, to those who would ask questions. Jesus ate meals with all kinds of people! This hospitality was anchored for me as a priest in the celebration of Communion. While I no longer preside over the Communion Table, I still practice hospitality. Welcoming ideas and stories as a researcher – those with which I am familiar and those which disrupt my ideas. Welcoming those who come for counselling and the stories and memories they carry with them. The willingness to be welcoming seems somehow at the heart of my vocation, and perhaps of yours.

Gracious God, make us hospitable. Make up people of your welcome: welcoming friend and stranger; welcoming questions, new ideas and ways of seeing. Amen.  

Jemma Allen is a priest in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. She serves on the Board of RevGalBlogPals, and is a Doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland.

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Register now for RevGalBlogPals Big Event 2020: From Vision to Action, where three outstanding clergywomen will share their stories and help participants explore how a vision for ministry becomes action in the world. The event will be held at the Franciscan Center in Tampa, Florida, January 27-31, 2020.

Registration closes September 30. 

Our keynote speakers are Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Faith Work Director, National LGBTQ Task Force; Rev. Erin Counihan, Pastor, Oak Hill Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, Missouri; and Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, Director, Frontera Wesley, the Wesley Foundation of Tucson. Our worship leader is Rev. Dr. Shaun Whitehead, Associate Chaplain, St. Lawrence University.

Double rooms are $600 per person. Make a deposit now to reserve your spot and pay the balance no later than November 1, 2019. Some accessible accommodations are available; please email Martha Spong to inquire. 

RevGalBlogPals Around the Web

This week's selections from our blogging community focus on prayer.

Terri Cole Pilarski asks, What is Prayer?

Liz Crumlish looks for what we need to keep going in Body of Christ.

Rachel Hackenberg is thrown on the Potter's Wheel.

Nikki Macdonald helps us construct what we need in Prayer-O-Matic.

If you aren't following already, you can find daily prayers written by a dozen different RevGals at our blog under the category Prayers
Read more from our blogging community

Point of view

Dear Gals and Pals,

I get a lot of email intended to broaden my thinking or deepen my spiritual life: daily devotionals, weekly round-ups, and monthly epistles. They come from pastors, journalists, coaches, and writers, or from newspapers, magazines, organizations, schools, or collectives. I choose what I subscribe to, so most of the time, even when I'm not informed on a particular issue or situation, I'm in a sort of comfort zone for my point of view. 

It's a surprise, then, when I see an unfamiliar name attached to an organization I support, then read further and realize that within the umbrella of the organization's interests, there are people whose foundational points of view clash with mine. We share an interest or a belief, but we diverge on something that matters deeply to both of us. 

Does that person have something, anything, to say that I need to read and consider? Would they even read my writing, if my name were on an email in their inboxes?

In the faith world alone, there are plenty of people who share my love for Jesus, but differ on beliefs I hold dear. Will their reflections on scripture, or their application of the gospel to action in the world, resonate with mine? Today I looked up a name and made a connection and decided to keep reading. I found there are some feelings we share about scripture. I want to resist saying, "but..." with regards to our different points of view on interpretation, *but* I cannot. 

Study, then, led me to prayer, for a point of view that truly centers on Jesus, who reached and touched and comforted and exhorted and loved everyone. Really. Everyone. 

Martha Spong
Executive Director

P.S. Don't miss these two great features at RevGalBlogPals this week:
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