Word of the Week

Getting to Know You: Jerusalem Style

So, "What is a Baptist?  . . . . other than the fact that you baptize people?"

Tonight while at dinner in Jerusalem, feasting on some lovely bread, salad and some of the best pizza I've ever had, I introduced several folks to the first female pastor, much less a Baptist one, they'd ever met in Jerusalem.

Since leaving DC yesterday our travel group has grown at each travel juncture. It began with just 3 of us leaving together from DC yesterday after church and tonight our group included 9 of us: two Christian pastors, an Imam, a Palestine tour guide, a Arab Jew tour guide, a Rabbi and two North American  Jewish students studying in the city.  And, my dear, Kevin.

Needless to say, introductions were crucial to dinner time conversation well beyond the basics of "Where are you from? or "Do you have brothers and sisters?" (for we didn't even get to many of these topics). Rather our discussion began with getting to know our own frame of life reference when it came to our faith (gotta love a bunch of religious nerds at one table!).

There was a lot of explaining to do to bring my colleagues and new friends of the Islamic and Jewish traditions up to speed on the particularities of the Protestant way of life. For example, the Jewish student who will be helping our team with some special projects asked me, "Could you please explain the difference between a pastor, a reverend, a rector, a priest and a father? I am just so confused at all the titles . . . and which one are you?"

I'd never really thought about how confusing titles given to Christian clergy can be to those on the outside . . .

Then, our tour guide informed Kevin and I that it would be easier to explain to some of the community and religious leaders we would be meeting with tomorrow that I was the minister and he just was along on the journey as my spouse. He wondered if Kevin wouldn't mind be referred to as a pastor as well. We laughed at this request and then said of course. No need to confuse folks anymore than they would already be.

And, even though there will be no laying on of hands and ordination service tonight for Kevin to become an "official" reverend, the trip will go on.

We hope that as we continue to travel and meet more people tomorrow, we'll continued to be surprised at the opportunities presented to open hearts and minds to the beautiful diversity of what being a Baptist, a female and clergy family means . . . Revs. Hagans and all.