Anna Kauffman was a mission worker in Tampa, Florida from 1925 to 1935. She was a zealous evangelist and made a lasting impact on the people who knew her. She could do every manner of housework, including making a black dress like her own for converts from the city. She did not think it right to have her picture taken, so this picture was taken without her knowledge. She could teach Sunday School classes of children but she could not offer her gifts to the church in public ministry.
More that 50 years later, on May 20, 2012, the pastors of the College Mennonite Church were concluding a series of sermons through the book of Revelation. The preacher for this morning was Pamela Yoder, a young mother who has a Methodist background. She served in the military as a geriatric nurse and has a degree from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Now she is our minister of Pastor Care and Community Life. Her message was clear, eloquent and practical as she drew from the Biblical context and her experiences in the laundry of her home.
I watched Pamela from the balcony of our round church. I could see her long white dress and she looked regal to me. She symbolized a wonderful change in Mennonte churches. I recalled a story I heard recently. A conference minister was approached by the leaders of a change-resistant congregation. They urged him to discipline a “welcoming” congregation for deviating from the Mennonite Confession of Faith. He reminded them that they also deviated from the confession by refusing to honor the gifts of women in pastoral ministry. He asked them why he should discipline the one church for deviating from the confession and not the other. That, it seems to me, is a good question.