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Pastoral Letter

Greetings Federated members and friends,


You may have heard or read about some decisions in the Southern Baptist church this week, in which they have chosen to reaffirm their objection to the ordination of women ministers. As many of you know, TFC is the result of a merger about 100 years ago between the Congregational and Baptist churches in Edgartown, and so we do have some Baptist history ourselves. To clarify however, our connection with the Baptist church is through the American Baptist Churches USA, not the Southern Baptist Convention. I come from the United Church of Christ tradition, which includes Congregationalist history. The first woman ordained by the Congregationalists was in 1853. And for our Baptist side, the American Baptists were formerly known as Northern Baptists, and they ordained women as early as 1882. If denominational history isn’t all that interesting to you, you may know that we at the Federated Church are very grateful that we have been ably led by several talented women pastors over the years. From Sarah in the book of Genesis, to Deborah in Judges, and Ruth and Naomi, to the first witnesses of the Resurrection, and through generations of women since biblical times, God has called women to share good news and to lead God’s people. Looking at the names of our former pastors on the walls of the  narthex, we see that women’s names only appear very recently. So we know we have not always recognized this, and unfortunately, as seen this week, some Christians still don’t. But we nevertheless thank the Almighty God for never giving up on us, for continually speaking through prophets, and for continuing to call leaders of all ages, tongues, races, genders, and abilities. May we always be humble enough to listen.


Grace and peace,


Rev. Mark

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