LGP Stories

Personal Stories from DMINLGP

London Wanderings

Written by: on June 8, 2017

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As I wandered around London, suitcase in tow, sleep deprived and trying to find my hotel, I was intrigued by the culture.  In my wanderings: I wondered at the homes crammed together, marveled at the ancient architecture, and bantered with the 4 taxi drivers who encouraged me to walk instead of taxi since it was “just around the corner.”

When I finally got to the hotel, my roommate, Mary, and I became engaged in a lively discussion about women in church leadership, which ironically we were both studying for our dissertation.  As I met the rest of the team, I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and comradery of the leaders and my teammates.

After the daily sessions, I enjoyed evening outings to experience the London culture.

London at night thumb_IMG_3222_1024was magicathumb_IMG_3406_1024l and more than I could have expected. The pictures reflect the cultural experience more than my words can.[1]

I also enjoyed an evening date with my cohort friends as we had a night out on the town eating Vietnamese food and seeing the Broadway musical, Matilda.  Seeing the sights, making new friends, and eating great food was an evening to remember.

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thumb_IMG_3408_1024Upon arriving at Oxford, I was enthralled with the location,  professors, and history of the ancient schools.  Every time I walked in the dining hall it felt surreal and I marveled at the casualness of daily dining in such splendor.  The food complimented the surroundings along with the conversations I experienced at every meal.

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New Knowledge and Synthesis

MaryKateOur daily speakers were interesting and inspiring, all with their unique style and presentation. Dr. MaryKate Morse had the most profound impact on me. As she discussed the disturbing evolutionary decline of women’s roles in the Bible fr Judge Deborah to the concubine who was raped in Judges 19, [2] I was reminded about the evolution and decline of women’s societal roles.  Just like biblical scholars and theologians, social theorists have attempted to clearly define the marginalized role of women in society.[3]

Dr. Emma Percy displayed intellectual perseverance[4] when she desired to be a bishop, but could not due to her gender, so she practiced in church ministry in other capacities. When the Church of England ordained women in 1994, she became the bishop of her own parish.  Her teaching on motherhood in the church was reminiscent of the work of the social theorist, Julia Kristeva. [5]   Despite the fact that they were from different cultures, eras, and perspectives, they both capitalized on the impact of motherhood on society and communities.

Londondoor

David Male echoed my concerns with the church when he used the humorous illustration of getting locked in a church closet and paralleled that with the concerns of church ministry.  We can get locked in our traditions, folk theology, and rituals, and call people to us instead of making theology  inviting and relevant to them.[6]  His plea to “learn and relearn”, not to return to what we’ve known and practiced, and reimagine what church could be, was delivered with humor and passion.[7]

McKennaroomI especially liked the quote from the esteemed theologian, Dr. Jason Clark, who closed out one of our sessions in the McKenna Room at Oxford with: “The church is the body in competition with the rest of the world,” then encouraged us to use “reflective practice” in our work.[8]  It was not until I studied about reflective theology versus folk theology [9] that I fully understood the intent and meaning of his closing plea to stay reflective versus rigid in my work.

Practice

jenteachginSince the advance, I have become more active advocating for women and helping their voices be heard and represented in our community.  I facilitate a recovery group for traumatized women and developed curriculum based on the book, Faith and Feminism,[10] focusing on women developing wholeness in their lives. I consulted with local lay theologians [11] who were questioning adequate teaching and support for traumatized women in our community.  A community-wide support group for women is being explored and discussed.

1KFor the couples work I am involved in, I am partnering with local churches going through the marriage curriculum my husband and I developed, One Kingdom, and planning our next local live event.  In my therapy sessions, I enjoy using the leadership principles and new knowledge I am learning with my clients.  With our church plant, as Culture Director, I am implementing church leadership techniques and learning the art of contextualization[12] as we strive to plant a culturally relevant church in my community.

Application

Of all the concepts and teachings that have lingered with me, none has haunted me more than the lack of women pastors and mutuality in the church.   Mutuality among the genders is my passion, as I see the devastating effects of inequality within marriages.  The double-binds women are placed in with leadership[13] is a reoccurring theme that continues to surface in our readings and teachings. As promoted through this education process, the church needs to be leading in cultivating an inclusive and relevant culture.  Dr. Martyn Percy said it best: “Church is a vision for society and society should look to us to see what it’s like to run a charity, do community, and love others.”[14]

As I seek to offer possible solutions for mutuality among the genders, the words of the humble, Jeremey Crossley, echo in my mind when facing a problem: “be overwhelmed and seek a new understanding”.  Deliver your truth with grace as, “he has never found a sermon of condemnation especially helpful.”[15]  Conjointly, developing intellectual traits and advanced critical thinking skills[16] to influence my work will be essential with any controversial topics.

Similar to my wanderings through the streets of London, I find myself wandering through: books, presentation notes, and journals seeking truth and teachings that reflect the agape God I follow, who is “self-suffering and self-giving.”[17]  I am enjoying being a student intent on learning versus intent on teaching or leading.  Krish Kandish said, “Find a new literacy to engage with the current culture.”[18]  Through this program, this is my hope; to find a new way of engaging with the current culture, introduce them to God, so as to bring about healing and unity.

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Favorite picture I took in my London wanderings


Bibliography

Clark, Jason. “Concluding Reflections”, Christ Church, Oxford, September 28, 2016.

Crossley, Jeremy. “When You Encounter Problems with Others”, St. Margaret’s Church, Lecture, London, September 23, 2016.

Elder, Linda, and Richard Paul. The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools. Kindle ed. Tomales, CA: The Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2009.

Elliott, Anthony. Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction. Kindle ed. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Grenz, Stanley J., and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God. Kindle ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Kandish, Krish. “Can Hospitality Change the World?” All Soul’s Clubhouse, London, Lecture, September 23, 2016.

LaKelly Hunt, Helen. Faith and Feminism A Holy Alliance: Five Spirited and Spiritual Women  Throughout History. New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004.

Male, David. Lecture, St. Margaret’s Church, London, September 23, 2016.

Morse, MaryKate. “The Christ-Foreshadowing of Judges 19: Our need for a Savior.” Lecture, Lancaster Hall, London, September 24, 2016.

Nohria, Nitin, and Rakesh Khurana, eds. Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice. Boston:Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, 2010.

Percy, Emma. “What Clergy Do; Especially When it Looks Like Nothing.”  Lecture, McKenna Room at Christ Church, Oxford, September 28, 2016.

Percy, Martyn. “Plenary.”  Lecture, McKenna Room at Christ Church, Oxford, September 28, 2016.

Pink, Sarah. Doing Visual Ethnography. Kindle ed. London: Sage Publications, 2013.

Ross, Cathy. “The Smell of Sheep.” Lecture, McKenna Room at Christ Church, Oxford, September 28, 2016.

Ward, Keith. “Oxford Theologians in the 20th Century” McKenna Room at Christ
Church, Oxford, September 26, 2016.

[1] Pink, Sarah. Doing Visual Ethnography. London: Sage Publications, 2013, Kindle, 782.

[2] Morse, MaryKate. “The Christ-Foreshawdoing of Judges 19: Our need for a Savior.”(lecture, Lancaster Hall, London, September 24, 2016).

[3] Elliott, Anthony. Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2009, Kindle, 207-231.

[4] Elder, Linda, and Richard Paul. The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools. Tomales, CA: The Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2009, 189-194, Kindle.

[5]Elliott, Anthony. Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2009, Kindle, 230-232.

[6] Grenz, Stanley J., and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God. Kindle ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996, Kindle, 205.

[7] Male, David. St. Margaret’s Church, (lecture, London, September 23, 2016).

[8] Clark, Jason. “Concluding Reflections”, (lecture, McKenna Room at Christ Church, Oxford, September 28, 2016).

[9] Grenz, Stanley J., and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God. Kindle ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996, Kindle, 235.

[10] LaKelly Hunt, Helen. Faith and Feminism A Holy Alliance: Five Spirited and Spiritual Women   Throughout History. New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004, p. 24-25.

[11]Grenz, Stanley J., and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God. Kindle ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996, Kindle, 235.

[12] Ross, Cathy. “ The Smell of Sheep.” (lecture, McKenna Room at Christ Church, Oxford, September 28, 2016).

[13] Nohria, Nitin, and Rakesh Khurana, eds. Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, 2010, Kindle, 4932.

[14] Percy, Martin. “Plenary”, (lecture, Christ Church, Oxford, September 28, 2016).

[15]Crossley, Jeremy. “When You Encounter Problems with Others”, (lecture, St. Margaret’s Church, London, September 23, 2016).

[16]Elder, Linda, and Richard Paul. The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools. Kindle ed. Tomales, CA: The Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2009, Kindle, 165-170.

[17]Ward, Keith. “Oxford Theologians in the 20th Century” (lecture, McKenna Room at Christ Church, Oxford, September 26, 2016).

[18] Kandish, Krish. “Can Hospitality Change the World?” (lecture, All Soul’s Clubhouse, London, September 23, 2016).

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Jennifer Dean-Hill

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