My daughters, ages four and seven, were playing quietly. Too quietly. As I peeked around the corner, I saw Audrey, my youngest, wearing her sparkly high heels while standing on her step stool. From a big book, she was ‘reading’, “Jesus was born. Mary was his mother. God was happy. You should love Jesus.” Then Eve leapt from the floor and started lining up communicants. She got all these imaginary worshippers in line and said, “First some questions: ‘Do you love Jesus? Will you be a good member of this church?’ Okay, now we can take communion.” I slipped away unobserved, but like Mary I pondered these things in my heart.
I wondered, “Where did the girls hear these words and why did they couple them together in this way?” Upon reflection, I recognized the words and rituals from our worship service over the past few months. Audrey was retelling the Christmas story. Eve was remembering the questions from her baptism in October. They were imitating what they had heard and seen in worship.
Little girls imitate the work and play of mothers as well as other women. It is by imitating women that little girls develop models for valid roles for grown up women. Basically, they discern what they can be when they grow up. Daily, my girls observe me as I model my faith and spirituality. Weekly, they hear the voice of the Reverend Cathy Jamieson-Ogg as she preaches the word at our church.
While in seminary, Kenda Dean, (at that time a graduate student at Princeton Theological Seminary) shared this advice with me. “Expect to lead in worship. You may view yourself as the youth minister or children’s minister, but the girls in your congregation need to see you. They need to hear what you have to say about God. They need to know that you are a minister just like all the other ministers who are in the pulpit.”
I don’t know if either of my girls will be called to preach, but I know they are informed and active worship participants. I know it matters that they experience female leadership in worship. And I am thankful for those women who embrace their call and step up to the pulpit.
Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, mother of two amazing daughters, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.