By Conference Minister Diane Weible
I was raised to believe that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. My parents, having raised three daughters, instilled in us a sense that we could be anything and do anything and nothing or no one could or would stop us.
The other day I was reminded of the first glimpse of my call to ordained ministry. Funny story—it came from my grandfather who actually stopped going to church when their UCC congregation called a woman minister. It was a weekend in October 1986. I was home from college for the weekend. My cousin and I took Ted Drews Ice cream over to my grandparents’ house. I see the scene as if it was yesterday. I was sitting on the floor in front of his rocking chair and he said, “I used to think you were going to marry a minister. Now I think you are going to be one.” I was about to graduate from college with my journalism degree and ministry was the furthest thing from my mind.
That turned out to be the last conversation I had with my grandfather who became ill and died on Thanksgiving Day, just a few weeks after that conversation. The night of the funeral I was talking to a dear and wise friend. I told him that maybe I should consider going to Seminary. He told me not to do it, saying that if I did it then, I would be doing it because of my Grandfather and not because that was where God was calling me. He was right. And, it didn’t take me long to realize the Call was authentic. After a year of working as a newspaper reporter I enrolled in Seminary and never once thought that the obstacles that stood in the way of women clergy before me would be a factor in my journey.
I was naïve but I was not completely wrong. I know that I am who I am today because of God’s presence in my life as witnessed and experienced by and through my parents, grandparents, teachers and so many other people, especially the many women who went before me and paved the way for a spirit in me that will not let my gender stand in my way, even if, at times, it is not easy.
I share this story today because, like many of you, I am grieving the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Her life and legacy was not just the influence she had over decades of Supreme Court cases but also the influence she had over millions of girls and women like me who looked to her for a reminder that God calls each one of us to show up in the world in the ways that allow us to use our gifts and skills and very being to help others and heal our broken world.
For more than two decades she showed the world what it means to be a strong, competent woman and was an example to all of us—male, female, nonbinary alike. In all that has been written about her life, this past week especially, here is one of her quotes that inspired this trip down memory lane: “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”
With all of you, I celebrate her life and pray that her legacy lives on in each one of us.