One more guest post inspired by our peacemaking challenge, as Gemma Dunning explores the difference between peace-making and peace-keeping…
It might sound like a Christian cliché but there really is a time for everything (Ecc 3:1) and this week’s challenge of peace making is a perfect example. But in order to share this story we need to go back in time…
In 2006 the leadership of my church supported my plans to attend a local bible college. I had been getting stuck in with the mid-week youth group, teaching in the Sunday school, and we had grand plans to forge relationships with the parents from the toddler group. But starting Bible College raised challenges that we simply hadn’t seen coming! The first year portfolio required evidence and examples of Christian ministry that I had previously not been involved in, moreover, historically no other woman had been involved in these areas. In an attempt to change this I began conversations with people about moving into new areas of ministry but I was quickly met with responses that were, well, less than encouraging. It seemed that this issue was set to be a bigger challenge than we had foreseen, and I had two choices: I could either be a peace keeper or a peace maker.
Well it wasn’t my intention to cause debate or to divide. I didn’t want to be the awkward elephant in the room and I didn’t feel particularly called to engage in a war, so I left the church. I chose to be a peace keeper. No big fights, no harsh words, no tears, I simply found another place where I could fulfil the criteria and could try all that God had in store for me.
Back to 2013 and you can imagine the surprise when last Sunday I was inducted as the Children’s, Youth & Families Pastor of the very same church I left in 2006!
As I said at the start there really is a time for everything and 2013 is a time for peacemaking. Peacemaking, as Sarah Hobday points out so well, is a hands-on approach that calls us to stand in the messy/difficult places. In this case it means leading well; it means saying ‘Yes I am a female pastor’ and it means dealing with people’s responses however difficult or challenging they may be – even if this means that others, sadly, leave the Church. There is a time for being a peace keeper and there is time for being a peace maker, the bigger challenge for me is in discerning what the current time is calling for… so I ask again ‘What time is it?’
Gemma Dunning bakes cakes, and loves red polka dots and hats. In between being the Children’s, Youth & Families Pastor for a local Baptist Church and a Youth Worker in Charge for local LGBT Youth Project she is often found enjoying the sunshine on Bournemouth Beach with a cuppa. Follow her on twitter @gemmadunning