Born into a World of Hostility and Contradiction: The Role of Mary-Anne Elizabeth Plaatjies-Van Huffel in URCSA
Keywords:Ordination, Patriarchy, Oppression, Ministry, Ecumenism
Prof. Dr Mary-Anne Plaatjies van Huffel was born, bred and ordained as a minister of the word and sacraments in a notoriously patriarchal society. Besides the racial yoke of apartheid in the country of her birth, she also had to carry the burden of sexism, misogyny, machismo and marianismo in her daily life. Without compromise, but with a deep sense of gentleness, boldness and respect, she confronted and spoke truth to those who held important leadership positions. Prof. Dr Mary-Anne Plaatjies van Huffel demanded a moral response from church leadership to the oppression of women in the church instead of an expedient, easy or selfish response. She was the first woman to be ordained in and appointed to the leadership of the church after a long wait for ordination. Her confrontation of patriarchy and its surrogates carried a connotation of bravery, and of risk to her career, reputation and livelihood. After her admission to the full ministry of the church, she climbed the ranks both as a church leader both locally and internationally. This article articulates Prof. Dr Mary-Anne Plaatjies van Huffel’s work, role and contribution in her ministry in the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa and in the ecumenical movement until her untimely death on 19 May 2020.
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