Posts Tagged ‘women in ministry’

Women in Ministry Position Statement

Friday, March 18th, 2011 by Diane Chandler

In my last few blogs, I have focused on women in ministry leadership. In order to clearly state the position of the Regent University School of Divinity, our dean suggested that a position statement be drafted and presented to the divinity faculty. I had the privilege of drafting the statement along with two colleagues, Dr. Mara Crabtree and Dr. Lyle Story. The statement was then approved by the divinity faculty on October 8, 2010. I provide this statement below and invite your comments.

 

Introduction

The School of Divinity is committed to the education, formation, and training of students for all contexts of vocational ministry without preference to gender. We encourage all seminarians to develop and use their God-given gifts for the benefit of the Kingdom of God in the family, seminary, church, and society. In accepting women into the School of Divinity, we affirm their personhood, giftedness, and calling for full participation in all spheres of ministry.

Foundations for Inclusiveness

We believe that women and men are created in the “image of God” as co-heirs and equal partners to enjoy respect, mutuality, and honor, without competition or domination by one gender. The gospels are replete with stories of how Jesus interacted with women by respecting them as persons; honoring their value, purpose, and call; and commissioning them in his extensive ministry, including his post-resurrection encounters with them. The finished work of Christ opened the door of redemption for all people without regard to gender, age, ethnicity, marital status, or socio-economic status. As a result, people are set free from former bonds. At Pentecost, the outpouring of the Spirit empowered both men and women for the privilege and joy of ministry. The subsequent ministry of Paul and others indicates the comprehensive nature of the freedom available to all believers: freedom from prejudice and control, leading to an abundance of life and a call to full participation in all aspects of the “life of the Spirit.” Both the Old and New Testaments affirm God’s impartiality and uphold the value of unity in the Holy Spirit among God’s people. Church history likewise reveals the stories of countless women who have been proactive and effective in every context of Christian ministry and mission (e.g., leadership and renewal of the Church and academy, missionary service, evangelism, and social reform). Our “lived-theology” within the Church and seminary confirms that an inclusive atmosphere leads to mutuality, joy, respect, and honor.

Implications for the School of Divinity

While recognizing that the role of women in ministry leadership positions is a controversial issue in many churches, denominations, and parachurch organizations, we commit to working for social justice and to fostering responsible dialogue with those who hold alternate views, while encouraging discussion within our seminary context. At the same time, we will not use the authority or the context of the classroom to challenge the giftedness and calling of any student on the basis of gender. We expect that all who teach in the School of Divinity will honor our commitment to women’s full participation in ministry leadership and to promoting this vision in our classrooms, teaching, and scholarship. Since we are committed to holistic formation and ministry preparation, we will seek to foster an atmosphere of acceptance and respect, as demonstrated by the fruit of the Spirit. We envision a future in which all believers will be encouraged to exercise their God-given gifts for God’s glory, missional purpose, and the joy of serving God and others, with the full support of the entire Christian community.

We hope that this statement will foster mutual respect and authentic gender equality, while upholding the dignity of both women and men as co-laborers for the glory of God.

Women in Church Leadership (Part 2)

Friday, March 4th, 2011 by Diane Chandler

On January 21, 2011, I posted a blog entitled, “Women in Church Leadership” and thank all who interacted around that discussion.  This blog continues the conversation.

Church history travels along a circuitous path that has seen both advances and restrictions regarding gender equality and women serving in church leadership. In part, these restrictions derive from theological reflections and writings of some the church’s early fathers, thinkers, and theologians. For example, Tertullian (160-220) said of women: “You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack: you destroyed so easily God’s image: man. On account of your desert – that is death, even the son of God had to die.” Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) spoke of women as “misbegotten males.”  And Martin Luther (1483-1546) believed that women should not participate as priests so as to protect order and decency and because of women’s “inferior attitudes.”

As women engage in educational and literary endeavors to counter traditional and oppressive scriptural interpretations that preclude them from expressing their giftedness in the church, they often counter what Paulo Freire describes in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, as the “culture of silence of the disposed” that results from a sense of domination Freire contends that each person has a right to speak and to name the world in an “incessant struggle to regain their humanity.” Women have indeed, to use Freire’s words, perceived “the reality of oppression not as a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiting situation which they can transform” (p. 34).

Contemporary biblical scholarship has challenged the misuse of Scripture and theological perspectives that demean and denounce women and minorities. Author Michael Joseph Brown cites in his book The Blackening of the Bible, the racism associated with biblical interpretation in reinforcing slavery from the work of Howard Thurman, an African American and former dean of theology at Howard and Boston University and a civil rights activist. Read the rest of this entry »