The first was with a church which isn't convinced about calling a woman minister and so there was some lively discussion, though conducted graciously I must add. It'll be interesting to see what happens next.
The second was with a group of women with whom I and my colleague Helen Wordsworth, had breakfast. This was organized with a view to encouraging women in all forms of ministry in the local church. It was a case of 'preaching to the converted' as the group needed no convincing, but we had some enjoyable discussion about the difficult passages of scripture and experience of church life, and this was thoroughly worthwhile.
What I've found frustrating on both occasions is the necessity of engaging with the difficult texts at length while risk losing sight of Jesus' radical attitude to women, and that of the Early Church. I'm also acutely aware that the vital issue of contextualising the difficult texts is viewed with suspicion by some and seen as not taking the scriptures seriously.
When you think that in 1922 Edith Gates was the first recognised Baptist woman minister, and that in 1925 the Baptist Union officially accepted the call of women to pastorates, it's taking some of us a long time to catch on. Therein is the nature of our ecclesiology!
However, for me this is a an issue which is not just about church practice, but about the gospel and mission. And actually it felt right for a man to be addressing the issue.