Yesterday evening I posted a BLOG inviting people to share their stories of university Christian Unions, in less than 24 hours I have received seven stories. Over the next few days, I hope to share these people’s stories with you. If you would like to share your university CU, email me at befreeuk at gmail dot com.
Here is Liz Clutterbuck’s story
I only became involved in CU in my second year, largely thanks to a housemate being very involved (she became president – as a woman – which was good). During this second year, I went on the only single gender event I can recall from my time in the organisation: a girls’ weekend focused on the contents of the classic “Relationship Revolution”. (The gender implications of that book is a whole other story!)
I actually appreciate the safety of single sex groups, for sharing stories & praying together. But, it was on this girls’ weekend away that I had my very first experience of a woman announcing that women shouldn’t lead churches. It wasn’t anyone in leadership, just a girl I got talking to over breakfast who asked what my parents did. When I told her they were both ordained, she replied “oh, I don’t believe in women’s leadership”. Literally my first ever encounter with complementarianism, having been brought up in the pretty liberal & inclusive Methodist church.
It stunned me that an intelligent woman, who had got into a world class university, had such views. Luckily she was in the minority, and we did have both a female president & UCCF worker, but I was concerned that no one else seemed to find her views odd! Poor, naive, 18-year-old me!
Fast forward 10 years & I was a student worker in a central London church, working with students from colleges including LSE. In my first week of the job, I was hosting a UCCF training event at my church, when a relay worker asked “so why do you think God is calling you into leadership?”, it took me a couple of moments to realise that she meant “why do you think God has called you – a woman – to lead.” It set the tone for the next 3 years, where, as an Anglican ordinand I was determined to show them just how normal women in leadership is!
(You can follow Liz on Twitter @lizclutterbuck)