The Rev. Trisha Elliott was having her photo taken for the church wall, when the photographer told her not to tip her head so much, and to pull her hair back so she looked less “movie star” and more like a minister.
What the heck did that mean?
Perturbed and mostly curious, the Reverend did what any other normal North American with a burning issue does: she went straight to her computer and onto social media.
Within hours, a heated conversation had begun between colleagues across the country about what exactly a female minister DOES or is supposed to look like? What stereotypes are out there, and who is buying into them? Who decides what is appropriate for a minister to wear on a Sunday, and even more interesting, what kinds of activities are appropriate for ministry personnel to engage in on their days off? All really good questions….questions that led to a cheeky idea.
And the Calendar Revs Project was born.
Out of the conversations and musings, came the calendar: a calendar full of images of real Canadian women who have answered a call to ministry, and who bring all that they are to the table with them. These are women who are busy, passionate, faith-filled, talented, and diverse….and who all have a pretty good sense of humour. One would be hard-pressed to fit any one of them into the stodgy and one-dimensional stereotype that seems to exist.
This project is meant to do two things: to spark further conversation around how we stereotype one another, and at the same time, do something positive in the world.
All proceeds from the sale of the calendars will be donated to the Malala Fund, an organization that works to empower girls through access to quality education.
This is my conversation with Rev. Trisha Elliott about stereotyping and female (and male) clergy, and why this conversation is important.
In it, we talk about the assumptions people have when meeting ministry personnel of any gender, about having to deal with the stereotypes and baggage people bring with them, and about the need to open up the conversation across the board about what it means to be answering a call to serve God regardless of gender.
Calendars can be ordered on-line for $20 (including shipping) at www.calendarrevs.com
And even if you can’t purchase a calendar, please share the link to start the conversation.
Thanks for listening.
(Rev.) Jenn, who serves in ministry in the United Church of Canada, who always wears heels, and who is the “December” podcasting minister in the calendar.