In 2001 when I served as Sligo’s pastor for young adults, one of the things that had a profound impact upon me each time I would enter the sanctuary, was the banners that hung from the ceiling which read, “All are gifted, all are valued.” In many ways this saying served as the motto for our church. Regardless of who you were or from where you had come, each time you entered this sacred space, these words served as a reminder that you were valued, not only by God but also by your brothers and sisters that made up the Sligo community.
But as powerful as these words are, if one is not careful, their meaning can be misconstrued. You see, although it says all are gifted and all are valued, it is not saying that one’s value is based upon his or her giftedness; it is simply stating that as children of God each of us is gifted and each of us is valued. We must understand that our value is not based upon how gifted we may be, but solely on the fact that each of us has been created in the image of our Creator.
Yesterday at the 60th General Conference session in San Antonio, delegates turned down a motion, by a margin of 1,381 to 977 and five abstentions, that would have allowed each division of our church to decide for itself whether to ordain women into ministry in its territory. In my opinion this vote sent a very powerful message to women currently in ministry as well as those who have yet to enter, that regardless of the gifts that have been bestowed upon them by God, they are not valued.
In my time here at Sligo, for three years as pastor for young adults and now seven years as senior pastor, I want to go on record to say that it has been a privilege to have served with five female pastors, all of whom possessed not only gifts, but the calling of God upon their lives. And, as I have stated in other public arenas, our pastoral team as well as our church has been made better, stronger and wiser by their presence and their power. This opportunity for women has been made possible because Sligo has always been a church that has championed the cause of women in ministry, which over the years has afforded fourteen women the opportunity to serve this great church in the role of pastor. To the members of Sligo, past as well as present, I say, thank you!
Today as you enter the sanctuary of Sligo, you no longer see the banners which read, “All are gifted, all are valued,” as they have now been replaced with banners that display our mission of growing passionate disciples for Christ along with our vision of being transformed into the image of God. But here at Sligo we don’t need banners to remind us that regardless of one’s race, gender, age or socio-economic background, “ALL are gifted and ALL possess value.” You see, God’s word is a sufficient enough reminder for us.
Pr. Charles Tapp