A couple of stories caught my eye in this morning's paper, hidden away from the torrent of speculation, supposition and spin about today's budget (easy boys, all will be revealed...)
One concerned the death of the singer-songwriter Lesley Duncan, a woman whose pin-sharp tones and lovely turn of phrase brightened up my university days. Her Earth Mother album was a particular delight.
The obit in today's Guardian tells the story of her and her brother touting songs in Tin Pan Alley in the 60s and being taken onto retainers, him at £10 a week and her at £7 because she had fewer songs and was a woman!
The other story concerns, in passing, Anne Moffat, deselected by her Scottish constituency for allegedly not being up to the job. As the ever-presceient Anne Perkins observes in her column 'how remarkable that in a thousand years of male MPs there has never been a case of deselection for incompetence before.'
I think I might have sensitised to these stories by David Kerrigan's insightful blog on the recent BU Council's discussions about women in leadership.
My heart sank as I read it and even more as I read the comments from able, gifted women like Julie and Catriona. Why after nearly a century are we still having this conversation? Why after accepting in the 1920s that God calls women just as he calls into men into church leadership, inlcuding full time ministry, do women find it such an uphill struggle to be settled in pastorates in our churches?
We have a truly exceptional minister in training serving with us at the moment. She is one of the sharpest thinkers I have the pleasure to converse with regularly, she preaches with insight, clarity and purpose, she is developing gifts as a listener. She would be an asset to any church anywhere in the UK of any size. When it comes to her turn to go through settlement, I would expect that she'd be snapped up by a church that recognises her gifts and calling.
Will this happen? Sadly, it seems, we baptists, like tin pan alley, undervalues the assets God has given us because some of them come in female form and, like constituency panels, seem to judge women more harshly than men.
And it's got to stop because it's an offense to the gospel, a cause of grief to the Holy Spirit and a major impediment to our mission.