Let’s move back in this autobiographical series to explain little bit about my involvement with Koinonia (the monthly publication of The Church of the Open Door). At its inception in 1978, a lady in her 40s served as Editor-In-Chief, appointing me as her assistant editor. My primary responsibility consisted of writing a “gossip” column called “The Church Mouse.”
“The Church Mouse” got me in trouble early on when I reported an item that someone had told me in confidence. Of course I lost the friendship (as I should have), but the elders showed me grace by letting me refashion the column into allegorical stories narrated my a brown female church mouse named Mousie who had a penchant for getting into scrapes. That format became instantly popular, and indeed developed my creative writing skills. I loved developing stories for Mousie and her friends to demonstrate practical applications of Biblical principles. (Mom always thought I should compile the stories into a children’s book, but I never did.)
After about a year, the editor decided to retire from Koinonia, pretty much letting it slip that she and the elders had always intended for me to manage and edit it. Over the next two years, I assembled a staff that was largely comprised of men from Love In Action, the ex-gay ministry affiliated with Open Door, as well as men and women from the church as a whole. In addition to my Church Mouse columns, I also wrote monthly editorials, many of which were teachings based on my understanding of Scripture.
I felt entirely comfortable having a position of authority in the church. Back then, I struggled with the question of women pastors, and even took a preaching class with some of the men in the church. Eventually, I accepted the Bible’s prohibition against women in pastoral positions (1 Timothy 2:11-12), but it never occurred to me that I was teaching a mixed group through my writing or that I was exercising authority over men.
As time went on, however, I noticed that I indeed held a position that put men under my authority. The more I spent time around people from Love In Action, the more I became convinced that I shouldn’t be directing men who were dealing with their homosexuality. Blurring gender roles, especially in the context of church ministry, hardly helped in affirming their masculinity.
Even when the pastors assigned men who were supposed to make executive decisions regarding Koinonia’s policies and content, I’d somehow end up being back in charge. A few times, I approached the senior pastor and beg him to let me resign. But, because my disability kept me from having a “real job,” he believed I was the only person in the church who could keep the publication running with the frequency and quality I’d given it. So I’d submit to him, all the while knowing that I violated 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
In late 1984, the Lord provided my “way of escape” from Koinona. Missionaries that Open Door had sent to North Wales from its own missions board had started a three-month Bible College, and I’d be going in January of 1985. Obviously, I couldn’t run off to Wales and still edit and manage the publication. The lady who served as my assistant editor gladly took my position, and I was too relieved to argue that a man should have assumed the responsibility. I “sent” Mousie to China (a closed country), ensuring that I wouldn’t have to resume any Church Mouse columns when I returned home. At last, I thought, I could serve the Lord without stepping out of my gender role!