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Pat Took

PatTookFormer Team Leader of the London Baptist Association, Baptist Union President 2011-12

It was the Mennonites who opened my eyes to the reality of my situation.  All those attending the conference were lined up facing a lawn.  We were then invited to take a step forward if we:
  • were born in this country
  • were over 35
  • were educated to post-graduate level
  • were married (and if this was our first marriage)
  • had children
  • owned our own house
  • took a more than size eight shoe
  • had a job which involved responsibility for other people...

As the exercise continued, I found myself out at the front with a couple of bishops and an archdeacon.  I realised for the first time that although I have no interest in power and neither like nor understand power play, nevertheless I have considerable reserves of personal power which come not from merit but from circumstance.  So when I have received an unequivocal call from God to serve, as church member, deacon, minister, General Superintendent, Team Leader, and finally as President, I have expected that my brothers and sisters would want to question and test that call, but not that they would question my humanity − my gender, race, age or education.  I have assumed that I would be treated with respect, and generally I have been.

And when I have encountered the inevitable rubbish − have been patronised, ignored, or dismissed − when doors have not opened and invitations have not come − I have been confident to face down the irritation in the strength of all the kindness, encouragement and welcome I have received, all the extraordinary doors that have been opened to me and the generous cooperation of the men (and it has largely been men) that I have worked with.  I have no cause for indignation on my own behalf − on the contrary, much cause for gratitude.

But I do have cause for indignation on behalf of those who, not standing on such a strong platform, have found obstacles put in their way, have experienced debilitating prejudice and hostility and have borne the brunt of the fight against injustice.  Like other gatekeepers, both men and women, I have tried to offer encouragement to gifted  women responding to a call, to open doors and seek opportunities for them.  But it has also been necessary, and continues to be necessary, to challenge those who refuse to acknowledge the full humanity and the full in-Christness of women.  Women experience God’s call with the same urgency and insistence as men.  To deny that God has a right to issue such calls is surely lèse majesté (an affront to dignity).   To refuse to acknowledge the true experience of women is loveless.

And until this is resolved, until the church acknowledges, celebrates and listens to both young men and old men who see visions and dream dreams, both sons and daughters, male and female servants who receive the Spirit and prophesy, God’s presence in the world will not find its true and full expression, and the church will go limping on one foot.
 
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First black woman to become an accredited Baptist minister in our Union
Team chaplain at Milton Keynes University Hospital
Minister of Portrack Baptist Church, Stockton on Tees
A Regional Minister with the South Wales Baptist Association. She was minister of Chatsworth Baptist Church in West Norwood, London from 1990-2007.
Minister of Stapleton Baptist Church in Bristol
An undergraduate and Minister in Training at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, on placement at New Road Baptist Church
     100 years of women in Baptist ministry 
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