September 23, 2006

Women’s Ministry and the Church Ladies. . . You know who you are

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I was invited to be a part of something called The Mary-Martha Missionary Circle. I was a Bible/Theology major at Moody, with friends who loved to talk philosophy and ethics over pizza while playing Monopoly with a spinner (back in the day all games in the student halls had the dice replaced with spinners – there was something lost in the translation – but that is another blog. . . ). My college major did absolutely nothing to prepare me for my encounter with the ladies of The Circle. Picture "Children of the Corn" meet Women of the Wheat.

I was positive I stepped into a cult meeting or an alternate universe. Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts.

There was no mission or vision statement – no slogan, no by-laws or anything akin to a handbook. Instead there was a group of women with cosmically related/mutated DNA with an innate distrust of outsiders and an obsession with cleanliness being next to godliness.

The “Marthas” had taken over The Circle’s leadership that year during the summer elections. Their meetings started on time with a short devotional, then a practical lesson on homemaking, the reading of the latest missionary newsletter, and a desert made from scratch – all in 59 minutes and 32 seconds.

During refreshments, I went and sat out on the porch swing and listened to the conversation floating out the screen door. It became painfully obvious that this was a club I wasn’t going to be joining. But I made myself go to the next three meetings and then gave up – until after the next summer’s election when the “Mary’s” took over and I got a personal invitation to try again.

Well, this time around it was mostly a different crowd, with a just few of the previous group. Relaxed and casual was the name of the game - same general agenda – just more conversational and yes, much longer.

Warily approaching one of the only ladies not in attendance either year, I found out that the changing of the guard had been going on like this for some time, with each group waiting for their turn to do things their way. I never did join The Circle - I realized that I was half-breed – part Mary and part Martha.

It wasn’t until later that I came to see that Martha didn’t stay a “Martha” and this whole labeling of church ladies was insane and unfair.

And with that – I challenge Sarah to blog on “The Bethany Sisters” – how ‘bout it Sarah?

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