It’s not you. It’s me.
How could it be about you? You, the Rev. John Dorhauer, have been nominated to serve as the next President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ. The search committee checked you out. People commenting on the press release are singing your praises. I don’t know you; they do. I cannot deny your qualifications, your engaging personality, or your valued contributions to the UCC all these years. Surely, you will serve faithfully.
You are going to be the face of the UCC! And, you know, nice face, but I just didn’t want to see your particular face. Not this time.
It’s not you. It’s me.
I notice things. Details. Telling details. Like the fact that your search committee co-chairs were Bernard and Kent. And now, as the UCC’s new General Minister and President, you will step into the big (boy) shoes that have been filled by Fred, James, Ben, Robert, Joseph, Avery, Paul, (the other) John, and Geoffrey.
Wow! Two Johns already. Some would call that redundant. Really, it’s called “institutional sexism.”
It’s not you. It’s not even me.
It’s us. All of us.
We call ourselves the “God is Still Speaking” denomination. Yet, in our 58 years of listening, how can it be that God has not yet been heard speaking the name of a woman to become UCC’s General Minister and President?
We claim as a “UCC first” Antoinette Brown, the first woman ordained to Christian ministry since New Testament times. In the 162 years since then, how can it be that no UCC woman’s seminary education and “career path” has qualified her to be chosen by Bernard and Kent and company?
Really, it’s not you, John. You were chosen by a process that belongs to all of us. The women who were in the same “pool of applicants representing the broad diversity of the UCC” (Bernard’s words) must not have had what you have.
I wonder what that was? (Do you wonder?)
Do you ever question how we got to this point in our relationship? One of us is constantly reassuring the other: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” [Gal.3:28] Are you saying that it’s all the same if the face of the UCC has always looked like only one of us? Have you noticed whose face is missing?
It’s not you. It’s us. All of us.
We own the history and the processes that keep putting a male face on us. If the UCC is to repent of our sexism, you, John #2, will have to be able to recognize sexism in real life situations:
- Did you notice what was missing with Bernard and Kent co-chairing that committee, or did that look just fine to you?
- Will it seem like business as usual to join a UCC collegium that will be (at least) 80% male and (at least) 80% white?
So, now you have been chosen — by us, through us — a man about to serve in a coveted role that some women were also called to and were ready for. Kent and Bernard, et al., looked into that diverse pool and saw only one “best catch”: you. Many of us had been waiting with hope for something new beyond the comma.
You are now the face of a system that has failed many women in many ways. Did you know?
Still the party-line assertion: “Sexism? What sexism? We’re the UCC!”
But it’s not you.
Or is it?
Yours in Christ,