16 July, 2000


Experiencing discrimination is like a child’s nightmare Christmas. There’s all kinds of anticipation about Christmas morning. When it finally comes, in the nightmare, the beautifully gifts are removed from under the tree and handed out, one at a time.

You’re sitting beside your brother and you watch him unwrap a gorgeously wrapped box. He looks under the flap and starts describing what the gift looks like. It sounds like a dream gift. It’s just what you’d like.

So you look at your own package. It’s also wrapped, but the paper is not as colorful. Oh well, you tell yourself. The wrapping is just part of the mystery. You carefully remove the tape and unwrap the gift. The gift inside is nothing like the one your brother received. It’s small and old, and it’s been used. Worse, you have no idea how to use it. You are devastated.

This is the experience I’ve had opening letters from conference ministers. Brothers in ministry with the same number of years in ministry and similar experience get letters recommending they apply to large and respected congregations in metropolitan areas as the senior pastor. The churches are active and interesting. My mail brings to me recommendations for associate positions (doing Christian Ed, of course) or small congregations who are offering part time or yoked ministry and are far from metropolitan areas. These congregations are struggling to survive. The only significant difference between us is gender. The gender of the denominational official or placement staff usually doesn’t matter. The region of the country doesn’t matter. It’s happened to me in nearly every region I've applied. There is discrimination in our regional offices.