There is always a delicate balance when discussing women in the workplace. Despite our own struggle between the obligation we feel to our families and our desire to pursue our personal goals, there are some actual obstacles that stand in our way.
Surprisingly, one of those barriers might be found in the church.
In the Bible, Apostle Paul writes to his church with instruction on how it is to be run—one of the most controversial verses today being 1 Timothy 2:12 (NIV) which reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”
Before the stands for feminism commence, consider that modern churches have different interpretations on what this means: some churches adhere to the literal translation, prohibiting women to hold any positions of leadership; other churches go as far to ordain females; while others allow women to lead in specific ministries.
Regardless, there are three female worship leaders in Fayetteville who are taking their creative passions for music ministry and giving their congregations a truly fulfilling church experience.
Katie Hash, Manna Church
For Katie Hash, her purpose is serving as the worship leader at the Executive Place site of Manna Church. “I’m confident that I’m anointed for worship,” she said.
“When God gives you a gift, it’s something that people will affirm in your life,” Hash continued. “And it seems that it is something that is constantly affirmed in my life.”
Hash said she became a Christian at the age of 13 and started playing the guitar after overhearing her mom and aunt talking about missed opportunities in their youth to develop a new talent.
She played the bass for her church in high school and eventually went on to Bible College in Tennessee to study music. After a summer internship at Manna and two more internships leading youth and adult worship at a church in Indiana to complete her education in 2012, Hash went looking for a job.
“I knew I wanted to be in a church. I still felt that call in my life, but I was scared to death because I knew I had multiple things working against me—lack of experience, being a woman and just all of these things that felt like ‘Why would a church hire me?’”
The day she inquired to her mentor at Manna Church about a job, she was hired.
And even though you can find Hash standing on stage, guitar in hand and leading Sunday worship at Executive Place each week, she said worshipping for her is like that of any other member in the crowd.
“I just think, I’m going to stand up here and worship like I’m a member and if want to join, come on; we’re in this together,” she said.
“There’s something really powerful about us declaring something together,” she said. “It’s really cool that we can sing, 'There is no other name than Jesus' all together and that he’s in the room and he is present.”
Hash projects a humble attitude on and off the stage and she understands that her position is not one of seniority. But to her, it doesn’t matter.
“I can feel entitled to fairness, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. God has still given me a platform. I can still speak into people’s lives,” she said. “It’s not about me and what I feel like I deserve. It’s ultimately about how can I serve the church.”
Joy Cogswell, Snyder Memorial
Joy Cogswell has been serving her church, Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, in a variety of ways for over 40 years.
“There have just been so many opportunities for me to enjoy what I enjoy the most; the families that I meet, and the children I work with—I couldn’t ever have a job that I enjoy more.”
Cogswell is not a typical church pianist, as music is a big part of the church’s ministry.
In fact, Snyder Music Academy was created to provide quality music instruction to students in a Christian setting.
As the director of the Snyder Music Academy, Cogswell brings all aspects of music to the Fayetteville community, by hosting events such as the Singing Christmas Tree and the Festival of Keyboards in correlation with the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival, in addition to providing music lessons to over 500 students a semester.
Cogswell said she and her staff teach students of all ages and she literally means her students range in age from infants to senior adults.
“You may wonder ‘What in the world do you do with a four- or five-month-old in a class?’” she said. “You would be amazed.”
She teaches the international Kindermusik curriculum, an early childhood development program with parent participation that uses music to enhance brain activity in kids up to five years of age.
In a class that looks like parents and children having fun, Cogswell said her students are learning important foundational skills.
“If we’re doing a steady beat activity—whether it’s with our body or a rhythm instrument—that’s not only establishing steady beat, but it’s also establishing that inward steady beat that children need to walk and bounce balls and do other things they’re going to have to learn to do as they grow,” she said.
And her students have come full-circle. Babies she taught years ago have grown up and are now bringing their own children to Snyder.
“A student from one of my first classes asked me to play in her upcoming wedding,” Cogswell said with a warm smile.
Ordained or not, these women are making a difference in their congregations and taking to heart the Apostle Paul’s advice to “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”
Anne Rogers, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
“Music has always been my love,” said Anne Rogers, the Director of Music Ministry at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. She chose to study music at the early age of 16 and said she fell into the sacred side of music by accident after being married in the parish and offered an assistant director position. Now, as the director of music ministry, she selects all of the musical pieces for the church and conducts a number of chorus groups.
Rogers grew up in the Catholic Church and understands the significance of its traditionally sung liturgy.
“There is nothing like music to create a sense of unity and to add a level of festivity. Those are the main reasons that music is involved,” Rogers said.
“The most important parts of the mass are the ones where we focus on singing. There are certain parts during the Eucharistic prayer—we sing the Sanctus, the ‘holy, holy;’ we sing the memorial acclamation and then [we sing] at the end of that big main prayer, the great ‘Amen.’ It needs to be sung; if you just say ‘amen,’ that’s good and it’s not wrong, but it is just not as joyful and emphatic as you using music to enhance those parts.”
While her adoration of music is evident, the voices of her choir echoing throughout the gorgeous new cathedral on Sunday can bring anyone listening the sensation of being a part of something greater.
This sense of community is so highly sought after in the Catholic Church that it is emphasized with impressive music at the start of each mass, Rogers explained.
“The entrance prayer—the reason we have a hymn as we gather—is to foster and create a sense of unity. It teaches us that if we lift our voices in sung prayer, [we express a] great sign of unity.”
Many churches call themselves the “body of Christ,” a term found in another letter from the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians. In this chapter, he writes that while the members of the church can unite under one body, each individual is called to a specific purpose.