Here was the prompt this week over at Revgals while I was on vacation:
“This week’s blog carnival topic is: What does Galship mean to you? The phrase was originally coined to refer to RevGal Fellowship–all the ways we build community, share our lives, support each other, and have fun. So blog about Galship–have you had an experience of galship in person or online? Has galshipping changed your life or ministry? what’s your favorite part of our galship? Or whatever way you understand the question–there are no wrong answers! What does Galship mean to you? Ready, set, write!”
I confess that many of my friends are men. Always have been. Don’t get me wrong–I have lots of good female friends too, but I have many good male friends. I pledged a sorority in college for two reasons. First, I wasn’t eligible to pledge the fraternity all my friends were pledging, and second, I decided I needed some female friends. It worked well. I kept my male friends, but added a bunch of sister friends.
And that has been true in ministry as well. you are likely to find me hanging out with the boys at the back of a conference. (We pay attention, I promise).
But there is something about being a female pastor that has made me value my relationships with female clergy differently. I recognized early on that I needed to develop relationships with female clergy. These women have been through experiences my male friends can only imagine. These women have paved the way for me to be able to be where I am today. They support me and they need my support.
While there are many experiences and opportunities for women in ministry in my denomination, there remain roadblocks and difficulties. And because the official policy is of equality and acceptance, the subtle discrimination and the ‘stained glass ceiling’ are that much more pernicious. It is easier to work for policy change. It is far harder to change hearts and minds.
So the relationships with other women who are navigating the path of ministry in a largely male dominated field have been integral to my survival and my thriving.
I came across Revgals not long after I became a pastor in 2008. I started my blog at about the same time. Revgals have helped expand my blogging beyond being just a place to store my sermons online. Their encouragement of my writing has been a gift.
“Galship” has another, related meaning for me too. Each year the revgals host a continuing ed event for female clergy on a cruise ship. (Get it? Gals on a ship?) I have been on two of these trips and am already signed up for the third. Like pledging my college sorority, it started with hopes I would have some female clergy friends. It ended up being a much bigger gift than I had imagined. I got to meet women with whom I had only interacted online, women of all denominations, ages, experiences, and geography. It is a gift to connect with these women each year on the ‘gal ship’.
The revgals have helped me find my voice. They have also helped me realize the importance of using my voice to help other women find their voice.