From the The Wesleyan Church Position Statement on Women in Ministry:
However, we believe that all pertinent Scriptures need to be interpreted in the light of their immediate contexts, as well as in the context of Scripture as a whole. We also believe that no passages of Scripture clearly prohibit women from holding positions of authority. The passages that on the surface appear to do so are often twisted by interpretations stemming from biased readings of the text. In some cases there are faulty or biased translations. And in others there is evidence of localized situations that required special treatment that was not intended for general application. We believe that God has progressively revealed in the Scriptures His purpose to call, equip and empower women for full opportunity of ministry in the church. Galatians 3:28 states that in the Christian era "There is neither . . . male, nor female." This is a general principle of Scripture. Any Scriptures that at first appear to contradict this general statement must be understood in light of the general principle of Galatians 3:28. Clearly the spiritual and heavenly identity proclaimed in Galatians 3:28 has precedence over the earthly, administrative identity.

The discussion regarding whether Scripture allows for women to be leaders in the church always centers around how we interpret Scripture. If one supports Women in Ministry, then he or she is accused of using Scripture to support their position. The assumption is that to not support Women in Ministry is the correct interpretation of Scripture. Those who oppose women in leadership assume they do not bring their own belief or pre-conceived idea with them as they search Scripture as well.
Often the assertion is made that women who respond to God's call interpret Scripture to their advantage. It would seem that men who oppose Women in Ministry might also interpret Scripture to their advantage and it could also appear that this interpretation might be self-serving as well.
Just a thought for discussion…


Separate Authority?

Equality in ability does not mean equality in authority. An attorney may be twice as qualified as any one of the partners in his firm, but this does not mean he determines the strategy with which the most important cases are handled. A physician may be skilled in surgery far beyond her chief of staff, but this does not always result in her choosing the procedures of the hospital. To say separate authority has been given to men and to women does not demean either

Do you think this is a legitimate argument as to why women should not be ordained ministers in The Wesleyan Church?
If women cannot have access to the same level of authority as men, does that not demean them?
Please let me know what you think.


A successful woman preacher was once asked what special obstacles have you met as a woman in the ministry? Not one, she answered, except the lack of a minister's wife. Anna Garlin Spencer


Trafficking and Exploitation of Women and Children

I just returned from a conference 'enlightening' us on the reality of Human Trafficking. It is surprising to learn how much goes on here in the United States. Of course, those trafficked are mostly women and children. I believe that one of the reasons it is so commonplace to traffic young girls and women is that there is such a low value placed on the female person. One of the chapters in our study guide was on the biblical foundation for the church's response to this evil. Another was on the biblical basis for valuing women. Although I found the text helpful for discussion, I found it also somewhat disturbing that such a chapter would even be necessary. It, of course, makes me think about how the low valuation of women is also a reason why people oppose Women in Ministry. Another interesting thought to contemplate don't you think?


Poor Paul!

For more than a thousand years, the Church employed a Greek philosophical paradigm when it interpreted this verse. That Greek model comes directly from Plato and Aristotle who taught that women were defective men. It isn’t too much of an exaggeration to say Greek philosophers despised women, considering them intellectually inferior, emotionally immature and generally incapable of the actions and attitudes of men. The early church fathers were immersed in Greek philosophy so it is not surprising to find their exegesis reflects Plato and the Academy. As a result of this paradigm, the Church and the culture engaged in withholding education, development and leadership from women. Predictably, the result merely confirmed what the paradigm taught: women were inferior.

But Paul is no Platonist. He is a Second Temple rabbi. His approach to the role and status of women is based in Scripture, not philosophy. A thorough analysis of Paul’s full understanding of women would reveal exactly what he shares in Galatians 3:28. In the Body, there is no hierarchy! All the world’s false distinctions – Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female – are overcome and set aside. So, what do we do with this apparent misogyny. Skip Moen

Well said! Poor Paul. He gets blamed for the way women are treated in the church. But his position is worthy of examination. It is not all that it seems.



Well, I am back from a wonderful vacation. Among the many things we did and the many people we saw, I was able to spend some time with Dr. Mari Gonlag, professor at Southern Wesleyan University and the Director of the Women in Ministry Center. Had a great time talking with her and thinking about things ministerial!
Had another conversation with a young ordained woman, which again reminded me of the difficulties women face as they attempt to find positions of ministry!
Had some time with my cousins, one of whom was surprised that our denomination takes a stand against alcohol but ordains women. To him, that was an oxymoron. All I could make of it is that he associates the ordination of women with the more "liberal" denominations who started ordaining women during the 60's. It seems that our position against the use of alcohol would be considered a conservative position and the position that we hold of ordaining women would be a liberal one. Interesting, huh?
So, back to work tomorrow and hopefully I will get back to more consistent blogging.


Ministerial Ethics

Ministerial Ehics

Did you know there is a link on the Education and the Ministry site that lists some important ministerial ethics? The link above will take you to an index. Scroll down until you get to "C" and choose "Covenant of Ministerial Ethics." Then scroll down to "E" for "Ethical Examination for Clergy." Some people might think that 'ministerial ethics' is an oxymoron. (Oxymoron is putting two contradictory words together.)
Ministers do not have to be perfect, but they really should attempt to have a code of ethics that puts them above reproach.
Do I sound old fashioned?


Ordained at Last

Well, last night was the big night! I was officially ordained as a minister in The Wesleyan Church. We had a wonderful worship service and the ordination message was brought by our General Superintendent, Dr. JoAnn Lyon. Wonderfully inspiring! I was blessed by the support of the people of our Northwest District!

It is wonderful to have completed all the work and have it behind me. Now I am on an adventure to see where the Lord leads!


The "World"

Also, I have emphasized increasingly the number of writings, by men and especially by women, before 1900 that have defended the full participation of women in ministry. This “answers” to a genuine degree that oft-repeated charge that Egalitarians today are simply an aspect of the modern feminist movement. Rather, I have learned by further study the depth of the biblical and historical roots of the Egalitarian position. David Scholer
The accusation that the affirmation of women in ministry is a result of the influence of the modern feminist movement is certainly an 'oft-repeated' one. Another way of expressing this perspective is to accuse a proponent of the full participation of women in ministry of being influenced by the 'world.' The Wesleyan Church may have been influenced by the first-wave women's rights movement, which followed on the heels of the Church's involvement in the anti-slavery movement. But the implication that The Wesleyan Church was influenced by the modern feminist movement can be refuted if one looks at how mute the church was on the issue during the 60's and 70's. Perhaps the church has been influenced by the "world," but the true influence of the "world" is visible by the church's acceptance of the 'world's" negative attitude toward women in leadership which translated into a reaction against women as church leaders and ordained ministers. The "world" has been struggling with women in the board room, women in the classroom, women as leaders in any field. The glass ceiling was first challenged by the "world" because it existed in the "world." It may have seemed the "world" was ahead of the church in raising the question, however, it actually was catching up with Jesus who always valued women and set the bar high for all of us today with regard to our view of women.



...What I have argued is that nothing in the New Testament itself tells us which is the most important or “controlling” text on women in ministry. Rather, this decision becomes a hermeneutical one, attempting to assess the context of each passage and its role in biblical teaching and seeking a balance of all (not simply a selective group of) texts. Further, one needs hermeneutical skills to assess the cultural contexts of passages written in first-century culture, in which, generally speaking, women were considered inferior, subordinate, not worthy of education and suited only to domestic responsibilities. David Scholer
Hermeneutics, Hermeneutics, always Hermenuetics, I say!!


Jesus the Christian Hero

One particular issue to which I have given increasing attention is the oft-repeated Jewish charge that Christian feminism is a new form of anti-Semitism, by making Jesus the Christian hero who liberates women from oppressive Judaism. I have, thus, given attention to the accomplishments and positive roles of women in Second Temple Judaism before I cover the negative views of men toward women. Further, I have argued (in print) that Jesus is a hero to both Jews and Christians. David M. Scholer
This is an accusation of which I had not been aware. It is something to be sensitive to as we approach the discussion of how Jesus treated women. His treatment of women is very positive and is a model that is important in understanding the role of women in the home and in the Church. We do not want to minimize or lose the powerful image of Mary sitting at Jesus' feet learning as men did at the time. Nor do we want to miss the importance of Jesus speaking to the woman at the well and revealing to her who He was! But perhaps we should choose our words carefully so that we minimize any potential offense to our Jewish brothers and sister.

What do you think?


Male and female / He created them

So God created / man in His own image, In the image of God / He created him; Male and female / He created them. Genesis 1:27
Although there is much debate about the meaning of the image of God, the Hebrew poetic parallelism clearly demonstrates that the female of the human species is created in possession of this same feature. She participates in the divine image in no grammatically, demonstrably different way in contrast to the male. Mary Hayter, when discussing the Imago Dei, says:
Whatever it is correct to say about the creation of the male in the image and likeness of God applies to the female. Anything and everything that may be deduced from the text about “man,” “mankind,” “humanity,” is relevant not simply to one half of the human race but to all men and women (Hayter 92).
Therefore any claims to variation of degree in bearing the divine image based upon gender distinctions should be rejected. Such readings overlook or ignore the plain reading of the text. The third line of this poetic refrain candidly recounts the creation of a plurality of persons, “them,” in genders male and female. Article from Wesleyan/Holiness Women Clergy


Help meet?

If the Hebrew phrase simply meant “helper”, then could a woman hold a leadership position in the church, let alone a single woman?... In the beginning, men and women were both created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), and they were created to be equals. They were both given the commands to be fruitful and to rule over the earth (Gen. 1:28-30). The woman was not created to be a subordinate helper to her husband. She was created as an autonomous being; she was a complete human being, just as the man was. Her existence was not dependent on him as his existence was not dependent on her: their existence depended on God alone who created them both.


Call Me What You Will...

Call me what you will, but God calls me....

How would you finish this sentence?


Gender and roles?

Marriage is hard even when both parties believe in mutuality and equality in marriage. Sharing. Negotiating. Swallowing your pride. Censuring yourself. Finding a rhythm between the two of you. Trusting the other. Forgiving. Letting go of the hurts. Overlooking. Growing older and changing. Finding a new rhythm. Renegotiating. Starting over. It’s messy, bruising work that wreaks havoc on your self-esteem and ego. But you can survive the bruisi-ness of marriage when you know that you’re not the only one in the relationship “dying to ego.” Marriage is about mutual sacrifice, mutually giving and forgiving, and mutually surrendering one’s wants and needs for the sake of the other– not because of some preconceived notion about roles and gender, but because you love each other, and because forever is a long time to be sad, miserable, and subjugated.
How much of the problem people have with viewing women in ministry as leaders is based on the these preconceived notions about roles and gender which say the woman must be submissive to the man?


"The Deeper Places Insider Her"

"A girl, forming her identity also experiences herself missing from pronouns in scripture, hymns, and prayers... she will experience the otherness, the lessness, of herself; all the pious talk in the world about females being equal to males will fail to compute in the deeper places inside her."-Sue Monk Kidd
Inclusive language is more important than we may want to acknowledge. If the church is not contextualized for over half of its participants then it is missing the opportunity to minister to the "deeper places inside her."



It has been said, "A sermon is only as great as it moves listeners to do something. To become different. To act differently in the world. To change — self and the world."
How long (if ever) has it been since you heard a sermon on the biblical foundations for women in ministry? I would imagine if we started having some serious preaching on this topic, we just might see listeners moved!


Resistance from pastor's wives?

...I am married to a gifted pastor but wondering whether my mate will get a real chance to maximize her God-given potential in the present pastoral system. This is no idle worry because I know of eminently qualified...women who have literally begged for a home mission church just for the chance of proving their gifts. In frustration, some have united with denominations that readily welcome their ministries. The other rub is an occasional sense of resistance from pastors' wives who may feel threatened by the egalitarian tenor of our marriage and working relationships. Some feel strongly that a woman's place is in the home and on ideological grounds, not evidence, suspect that our kids must be warped. They are not.--Anonymous Pastor's Husband
Hmmm...do you think the woman in ministry feels resistance from pastor's wives? If so, what a shame!


Is it sin?

Anyone who resists the notion of women preachers is functioning as a tool of the devil...'It's one thing to be wrong, but that isn't wrong, that's sinful. The Bible says, 'neglect not the gift that is in you,' and when women are gifted with the gift of preaching, anybody who frustrates that gift is an instrument of the devil,' Campolo said.-Tony Campolo,
What do you think?


Why Men Should Not Be Ordained

You may have seen this before, but I ran across this again and thought it was pretty funny and interesting. You can click on the title to see where I found it.
" Why Men Should Not Be Ordained " from The MENNONITE REPORTER, "Fly on the newsprint" by Ivan Emke (with acknowledgement for inspiration to Rosemary Radfore Ruether.)
  1. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as picking turnips or de-horning cattle. It would indeed be "unnatural" for them to do other forms of work. How can we argue with the intended order that is instituted and enforced by nature?
  2. For men who have children, their duties as ministers might detract from their responsibilities as parents. Instead of teaching their children important life skills like how to make a wiener-roasting stick, they would be off at some committee meeting or preparing a sermon. Thus these unfortunate children of ordained men would almost certainly receive less attention from their male parent. Some couples might even go so far as to put their children into secular daycare centers to permit the man to fulfill his duties as a minister.
  3. According to the Genesis account, men were created before women, presumably as a prototype. It is thus obvious that men represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
  4. Men are overly prone to violence. They are responsible for the vast majority of crime in our country, especially violent crime. Thus they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
  5. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinate position that all men should take. The story also illustrates the natural tendency of all men to be either unwilling or unable to take a stand. From the Garden of Gethsemane to football locker rooms, men still have this habit of buckling under the weight of the lowest common denominator. It is expected that even ordained men would still embarrass themselves with their natural tendency toward a pack mentality.
  6. Jesus didn't ordain men. He didn't ordain any women either, but two wrongs don't make a right.
  7. If men got ordained, then they wouldn't be satisfied with that; they'd want more and more power. Next thing most of the Conference leaders would be men and then where would we be? No. The line must be drawn clearly now before it's too late.
  8. Many, if not most, men who seek to be ordained have been influenced by the radical "men's movement" (or "masculist movement"). How can they be good leaders if their loyalties are divided between leading a church and championing the masculist drive for men's rights? The tract writers haven't pronounced on it yet, but the masculist movement is probably profoundly un- Christian.
  9. To be an ordained pastor is to nurture and strengthen a whole congregation. But these are not traditional male roles. Rather, throughout the history of Christianity, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. Women, the myth goes, are fulfilled and completed only by their service to others. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination. But if men try to fit into this nurturing role, our young people might grow up with Role Confusion Syndrome, which could lead to such terrible traumas as the Questioning Tradition Syndrome.
  10. Men can still be involved in Church activities, without having to be ordained. They can still take up the offering, shovel the sidewalk, and maybe even lead the singing on Father's Day. In other words, by confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church. Why should they feel left out?


Women's Leadership in the Church

An article from our Wesleyan Publication Wesleyan Life:

Leadership for Women in the Church

By Anita Carrión Quinoñes

Current opportunities for leadership for women in the church vary from country to country. Within any culture, the church can choose attitudes and actions that help strengthen it by recognizing the ministry gifts of both male and female members.

These might include the following:

  • Allow women to become ordained as ministers in the church, using the same requirements that are in place for men.
  • Respect any woman who is in a place of spiritual authority within the church. Celebrate her ability to obey God’s call on her life.
  • When a position of leadership within the church becomes vacant, seek God’s person—male or female—to fill that vacancy.
  • Accept spiritual instruction from women as well as men. The Holy Spirit uses both male and female leaders to teach truth from God’s Word.

— Anita Carrión Quinoñes, former national superintendent of Peru

from “Women’s Leadership in the Church,” Global Voices, edited by Joy Bray


I don't think sex plays much part....

I've been a woman for a little over 50 years and have gotten over my initial astonishment. As for conducting an orchestra, that's a job where I don't think sex plays much part.-Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)

--on becoming the first woman to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra, recalled on her death, International Herald Tribune, October 23, 1979

Nadia was the first woman to break this particular all-male barrier. Women have been breaking barriers for many years. Perhaps we should not find it so unusual that the same barriers must be broken within the church!


The Gospel is Radical!

Have you thought much about how radical the gospel was in Jesus' and Paul's day? If it was radical then, it certainly is now as well. Below is a quote from an interesting discussion about Galatians 3:28. The author challenges the idea that when Paul says there “is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28), he is speaking only of access to Christ or salvation. Given the fact that this was written to a church that was having difficulty assimilating both Jews and Gentiles, Paul obviously is addressing more than just access to Christ. He was advocating that we are all one and our
...mutuality in Jesus weaves us together so that gender and ethnic differences no longer estrange or oppress but rather become the means of reflecting God’s presence, forgiveness, and love to the world...The gospel is radical medicine for a world divided by ethnicity, gender, and class, a world that, like ours today, emphasizes these differences in order to maintain divisions and inequities. -Mimi Haddad


The Dilemma

So, I am still thinking about the problem of ordained women who have no place to serve. They have finished their training, some even have internships, and then no ministerial search committee or church board will invite them to candidate or even seriously consider their resume.
Many of these women give up and leave the denomination or just give up and do other things.
Does God call? Do women prepare? Then the church just refuses to even consider them?
I wonder about this...don't you?


Just a note about Priscilla...

Women In Mission, a chapter in the book Perspective on the World Christian Movement, A Reader, edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, tells us a little bit about Priscilla, who along with her husband Aquila, were leaders in the church during the Apostle Paul's time.
Since Priscilla's name is always listed first, some scholars suggest that 'the wife was more prominent and helpful to the Church.' It is perhaps most interesting to note that her role in cross-cultural service, leadership, and teaching were perceived as so normal that they did not require special comment or explanation by the writer of Acts. Her role seems to have been accepted and expected rather than extraordinary.
That is our goal! For the Woman in Ministry to be "accepted and expected rather than extraordinary."




What is your response when you see the word her.meneutics?
I got to thinking about the word when I saw Christianity Today's blog called Her.meneutics. "Her.meneutics is the Christianity Today blog for women, and provides news and analysis from the perspective of evangelical women."
It made me think of herstory vs. history. Perhaps it reminds us that women are (or should be) included in the study and interpretation of Scripture? Is it reverse sexism? Do you like it? Is it even necessary? Is it clever?

What do you think?


Nothing but jealousy

The Pilgrim Holiness Church and the Wesleyan Methodist Church merged in 1968 to become The Wesleyan Church.
Here is a bit of history that you might find interesting and encouraging.
The Pilgrim Holiness church, founded by Seth Rees (father of Paul S. Rees, prominent in the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals in the 1940s), opened wide the door to women preachers who comprised 30 percent of its ordained elders in its early decades. Rees's wife served with him as copastor and coevangelist. Against those who opposed women preachers, Rees countered, "Nothing but jealousy, prejudice, bigotry, and a stingy love for bossing in men have prevented woman's public recognition by the Church."-Dayton, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage, 98

Who am I that I should withstand God?

As a result of Wesley's changing attitude about the role of female preachers in his movement and the testimony of many witnesses to the abundant fruit of their labor, the English Methodist Conference was eventually led to recognize officially a number of these exceptional women. In these later years, when Wesley was asked why he encouraged certain of his female devotees in this practice, the elderly sage replied simply, "Because God owns them in the conversion of sinners, and who am I that I should withstand God"-Chilcote, John Wesley and the Women, 182.


First Women's Rights Convention

Women’s Rights Meetings Held in Wesleyan Methodist Chapel-1848

"The first Women’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848, in the Wesleyan Methodist chapel. Four years later, when the New York State Temperance Convention refused to recognize delegates from the Women’s State Temperance Society or to hear Miss
Susan B. Anthony, Luther Lee defended the women’s right to participate. When his efforts to convince the conference failed, he opened his church, the Syracuse Wesleyan Methodist chapel, to the women for an evening meeting.
The church was packed, while the convention was almost deserted." --Women in Wesleyan Ministry: A Brief History by Mari Gonlag


The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

In an earlier installment on this blog (1/29/09), I referred to the misconception called complementarianism. This position is taken by co-authors John Piper and Wayne Grudem of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: a Response to Evangelical Feminism. Dennis Bratcher of CRI/Voice Institute http://www.crivoice.org/index.html informs us about Wayne Grudem and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:
Wayne Grudem...happens to be the president of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. That organization, whose voice is primarily heard in opposing women's involvement in ministry, has roots deep in the Southern Baptist Convention. Basically, the position of this organization is that all problems in marriage and family come from a failure of the husband to be in charge. Note one of their statements of belief: "In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries. Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God's will." In other words, God himself does not want women in ministry, and any who think otherwise, no matter how "heartfelt" their call, are simply wrong. -Dennis Bratcher



"Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea." -Exodus 15:21
Did you know it was Miriam, the sister of Aaron, who sang this verse that we sing in our worship songs? She sang it celebrating the victory of crossing the Red Sea.



Romans 16 is a letter of recommendation, the earliest letter of recommendation for a Christian minister, and it's written for a woman, Phoebe, who is, in the beginning of the chapter, said to have been a deacon, not a deaconess--but a deacon in the sense of a preacher, a minister--because Paul uses the same word for himself. He calls himself, in a number of instances, a deacon of the new covenant in 2 Corinthians. -HELMUT KOESTER
One of the common arguments against women in ministry is that the word deaconess is used when referencing women in the New Testament with regard to calling and gifts. This point of view defines deaconess as one who helps only, not one who leads. If women are always denoted as deaconesses and not deacons in the Scripture, then clearly they are not meant to be lead pastors or shepherds. However, this quote is from an article that refutes the idea that women cannot be preachers/ministers. The author makes the argument that translators have commonly interpreted the same word as deaconess for women and deacon for men.

So, it looks like Phoebe could and should be a role model for women. She is our foremother. By the way, my computer didn't recognize the word foremother. But it did recognize deaconess.



I am neither

I am neither a man nor a woman but an author. -Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)

Do you ever wish that you were not defined as a woman but rather as a minister?


The Woman Who Forgot to Live

The Woman Who Forgot to Live
First, I was dying to finish high school and start college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then I was dying to marry and have children.
And then I was dying for my children to grow up and get out of the house.
And then I was dying to retire.
And now, I am dying…and suddenly I realize I forgot to live.
This is a reminder that we need to live now. We need to do what we need to do...now. Whether you are 28 or 82 it is time! As a woman in ministry, a woman considering ministry, a woman doing ministry, a woman considering doing ministry, a woman raising children, a woman going to school, a woman about to retire...it is time to do it now. Don't put it off. Don't wait until everything is perfect. Don't make excuses. Otherwise you will one day be dying and may realize you have missed your opportunity.

However, with this call to action, I must balance the above sense of urgency with a quote from the book I am reading for my last ordination course. Author Sherwood Lingenfelter quoting William McConnell in his book Ministering Cross-Culturing reminds us that time is a "gift from God, and that his priorities can always be fulfilled in the amount of time we have been given...God is lavish with his gifts, so that there is always enough time to do what Jesus calls us to do."

So, perhaps the thing to remember then is to not miss the opportunity given to us to do what Jesus calls us to do. He gives the time and the gifts. We just need to use God's gift of time while we are living.

I don't want to look back and realize I did not honor God's gift of time He gave to me.


Can a man represent Christ better?

One of the influences working against the acceptance of the ordination of women is the belief that a woman cannot represent Christ because she is not a man. People often express surprise and some even express disbelief when confronted with this idea. I believe we should be aware of the argument or it will take us by surprise. In his article "Did Christ rule out women priests?" The catholic priest and theologian, Father John Wijngaards, delivers the argument. In the end he refutes the argument.
It is true there is no explicit teaching in Scripture that restricts the priesthood only to men. How then, you may ask, can we deduce that women are excluded from the ministry? Such a conclusion can be arrived at, with practical certainty, from the combination of the following facts:
1. Jesus Christ chose only men to be his apostles. He obviously did this on purpose and so fixed a norm.
2. The Church always followed this example of Christ. Both in apostolic times and in later centuries only men have been ordained priests.
3. A priest is the sacramental sign of Christ's presence at the eucharist. A man can represent Christ better because Christ too was a man.-FATHER JOHN WIJNGAARDS
However, after a very lengthy article Father Wijngaards concludes his commentary this way:
The question: Did Christ rule out women priests? I have answered in the negative. The fact that Christ chose only men to function on his apostolic team was not determined by his own specific preference, but by the social pressure of his time. In the circumstances Christ could not have appointed women to a priestly task. But in no way did he at any time rule out the possibility of women being ordained priests. On the contrary, the priesthood he instituted is of such a nature that it breaks with all previously established human limits. -FATHER JOHN WIJNGAARDS
Was woman created in God's image? Can women represent God? These are questions we need to be prepared to answer. Perhaps I will write more about them...


Are we embarrassed?

As Methodism became established, following Wesley's death, there was clear embarrassment about the existence of women preachers (cf., Brown, women, p. 175) which led to the denial of ordination for women in the main Methodist church until the mid-twentieth century. While the early holiness "sects" were progressives, with as many as 25% of their clergy being female, this number dropped steadily as they became "churches." It is now closer to 5% (cf. Hardesty, et al., "Women in the Holiness Movement," pp. 244-46; and Dayton, Evangelical Heritage, pp. 97-8).-Randy Maddox's footnotes to his article WESLEYAN THEOLOGY AND THE CHRISTIAN FEMINIST CRITIQUE
The number has dropped in the Wesleyan Church. Is there reason to think it is because we are "embarrassed?"


89 year old female pastor

I just had lunch with a 89 year old female pastor who is currently the solo pastor of her church. She was ordained in 1947 and has pastored in one area for nearly 50 years. She has always been a solo pastor. She still has a strong sense of her calling. Although, she states that she has not experienced some of the obstacles some have, she acknowledges that she was a rarity even in her beginning days.

I left wondering what I could learn from her. I think the most significant thing to me is that she is still sure of her call. She does not look back, and certainly does not wonder (and likely has never wondered) if it is okay for her to preach the gospel.

While we were eating, she counted (on her fingers) how many female ministers in various denominations there are currently in her little town. Guess what? There are 7.

After almost 50 years of Rev. Betty Miller ministering in this small town, I don't think that is just coincidental!


How would his Disciples have ever known?

This excerpt might be helpful for those who think that the move to ordain women began in the 1960's as a result of the Feminist Movement. Margaret Fell Fox, wife of George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends/Quakers writes this article in 1666. After reading the excerpt click on the link below to read more of what she has to say about what the Scriptures say with regard to allowing, justifying and proving that women may 'speak'.
Women's Speaking Justified, Proved, and Allowed of by the Scriptures

"Notice this, you who despise and oppose the message of the Lord God that he sends by women. What would have become of the redemption of the whole body of mankind if they had no reason to believe the message that the Lord Jesus sent by these women about his resurrection? These women had received mercy, and grace, and forgiveness of sins, and virtue, and healing from him, the same that many men had also received. If the hearts of these women had not been so united and knit to him in love that they could not depart like the men did, but they sat watching, and waiting, and weeping about the tomb until the time of his resurrection and so were ready out of their tenderness and love to carry his message as it was revealed to them, how would his Disciples, who were not there, have ever known?"


Women's Right to Preach!

In 1859, Catherine Mumford Booth wrote an article in defense of women preachers. The title of her article was "Female Ministry; or, Woman's Right to Preach the Gospel."
The title makes me wonder...is it appropriate to speak of it as a right? I find that using the word 'right' in relationship to a woman's position in the church is not considered the Christian way to speak of it. To speak of 'rights' smacks of liberal civil rights 'speak.' To speak of 'rights' sounds like an entitlement. To speak of 'rights' seems selfish and self-serving. To speak of 'rights'
is perceived as a demand and seems to set up a sense of competition. How does speaking of "Woman's Right to Preach the Gospel" fit with the idea that we, as Christians, should not demand our rights?
Funny, we don't have a problem speaking of our 'right' to vote. Or our 'right' to 'privacy.' Or our 'right' to the freedom of worship. Or our 'right' to assembly. Or our 'right' of freedom of speech. Most of us do not consider these 'rights' as selfish, self-serving or un-Christian.
Is it really because a Christian should not demand their 'rights' or is it really that a woman should not?
I wonder...


There is neither male or female...

Why the Best Man for the Job is a Woman: The Unique Female Qualities of Leadership hails the lady CEO as a sign of a revolution taking place in a corporate culture traditionally dominated by men. The world of business is changing...and it is women who are best suited to meet the challenges of the modern marketplace. Book [the author] contends that women such as Meg Whitman of eBay and Marcy Carsey of Carsey-Werner succeed because they embody seven uniquely female abilities: they can sell their visions; they are not afraid to reinvent the rules; they are closely focused on achievement; they show courage under fire; they turn challenges into opportunities; they are aware of customer preferences; and they maximize what Book calls "high touch" in an era of high tech.

Within the church, I think we need to be really careful to avoid the temptation to make the argument that women have uniquely female qualities that not only qualifies them to be pastors, but makes them better suited for the task. First, persons are called into ministry. Each person, male or female, is uniquely gifted for the ministry to which the Holy Spirit calls him or her. Secondly, to say women are better qualified based on their abilites (as the book review indicates) is to diminish men and their gifts and what they have historically contributed to the ministry. Thirdly, there should be no competition nor contrast and comparison. Fourthly, to speak of women as though they are totally different in their ministry giftings from men, is to minimize and isolate womens' gifts and still maintain the male model of pastoral leadership as the norm. The Holy Spirit is the gift giver and the One who does the calling. To make this argument does a disservice to those called into ministry and also to the Third Person of the Trinity. Women do not have to be better (or the same) as the opposite sex. They, like men, just have to be called!


"Separate But Equal"

Separate but equal was a policy instituted in southern states which practiced segregation. Under the policy, African Americans and people of European descent were provided separate public facilities and services, such as schools, water fountains, and bathrooms.
In many churches, the "separate but equal" rule is alive and well. Those who apply this 'rule' attempt to convince women that when they are told they are equal before God-but have a different 'role'-that it does not mean they are lesser than men. They are just different! That has never made sense to me any more than it did to the African Americans that were told to use a different rest room or water fountain. When African Americans protested this practice they were judged as 'uppity,' as 'stepping out of their place,' as 'rebellious,' as not understanding their 'God-ordained' position in the world. Sound familiar?


New Testament Headship

Please see the article by Gilbert Bilezikian from which I quote below: He gives some explanations of what "head" meant in the New Testament times.

"Eph. 1:22-23. The passage that immediately precedes this text exalts the supremacy of Christ in his session. But in relation to the church, the role of Christ is described as being appointed as head for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. The headship of Christ is never over the church in the New Testament. Here, it is for the church. As head, Christ gives the church fullness. He provides for the church's growth. The function is not one of authority but of servant provider of what makes the church's growth possible.

Eph. 4:15-16. Christ is the head from whom the whole body grows and builds itself up. The function of the head in relation to the body is to provide it with growth. Headship is not an authority role but a developmental servant function.

Eph. 5:23. The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which is the Savior. As head of the church, Christ is its Savior. If head had meant authority, the appropriate designation for Christ would have been "Lord" instead of "Savior" which is consistently a self-sacrificing, life-giving servant role in the New Testament.

Col. 1:18-19. Christ is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead. Through his blood, shed on the cross, all things are reconciled to God. In a passage that celebrates Christ's supremacy over all creation, this text describes Christ as the source of the life of the church through his resurrection from the dead and because of the reconciliation obtained through his self-sacrificing servant ministry at the cross. Headship is not defined in terms of authority but as servant provider of life.

Col. 2:19. Christ is the head from whom the whole body grows. The function of head in relation to the body is not one of rulership but of servant provider of growth. Christ as head to the church is the source of its life and development.

This survey indicates that head, biblically defined, means exactly the opposite of what it means in the English language. Head is never given the meaning of authority, boss or leader. It describes the servant function of provider of life, growth and development. This function is not one of top-down oversight but of bottom-up support and nurture."



A basic rule of sound hermeneutics requires that no biblical term or concept be infused with meanings foreign to it. For this reason, the meaning of head in the New Testament must be defined from within the New Testament itself. It cannot be assumed that the value of head in the English language as authority, leader or master carries over automatically into the New Testament's use of the same word head...it must be determined whether the word head, when used to describe Christ's relationship to the church, carries the same meaning of lordship or whether it is invested with a different value. The glib assumption may not be made that, because head denotes authority in English, it also does so in the language of the New Testament.-Gilbert Bilezikian
Can you think of a word that evokes more emotion with regard to men and women, marriage and the leadership of the church than the word HEAD?

My aim on this blog is not to write treatises or theses on the topics that I choose. Rather, my goal is to present thoughts that provoke our thinking and hopefully challenge some of the assumptions that seem to cloud our view on the 'role' of men and women. There are traditional interpretations of the Bible that can tolerate a review of their hermeneutics without challenging the authority or truth of the Scripture.

In my opinion, the use of the word head as it is denoted in English, rather than in the context of the New Testament, is one interpretation that needs to be reviewed and revised.



"...there is the novel post-1970s interpretation of a se-
lected number of biblical texts on women that is now
adopted almost word for word by all contemporary 
hierarchists and rejected by all egalitarians. This says
men and women are equal, yet role-differentiated, 
which, when unpacked in plain speech, means that
 women are permanently subordinated to male 
authority. Women’s subordination, it is added, is
not a consequence of sin or a reflection of cultural 
values, but is predicated on a hierarchical social 
order established before the fall. It is the ideal that is
pleasing to God and, as such, is unchangeable."
Kevin Giles, Author
This 'novel interpretation' is actually the definition of "Complementarianism." It sounds really good when it states that men and women are equal. But don't fall for it. It is not egalitarian! The whole concept rises and falls with the word 'role.' It is interesting to note that the term 'role' is a not a biblical term. It is a sociological term and the use of this meaning of the word came into our vocabulary in the 1970's. So beware when you hear the term 'complementarianism.' it does not lead to the support of Women in Ministry. It actually serves to keep women out of the pulpit!


Ordination interview

Well, I survived my Ordination interview. It is my last interview with the DBMD (District Board of Ministerial Development) before my actual Ordination this summer at District Conference. They are the ones with whom I have interviewed at least once a year for the last couple of years. I must say I was quite nervous, but as with most things, once I got started I felt better.

What did I learn that I can pass on? Well, make sure you are prepared! I studied The Wesleyan Discipline which defines our positions on the various doctrines of the church. It felt good to be able to reference what the Discipline says while at the same time give my explanation of what I think it means. I am more of a conceptual person, so I had to work really hard to remember the Scriptural references related to the theology. What are some of the questions? They ask questions about the Atonement, Justification, Regeneration and Sanctification, of course.

One interesting part of the interview was that my husband sat next to me as my spouse. That was really different given that I stood with him at his ordination many years ago. He normally sits as a member on the DBMD, but for this time he sat next to me and had to answer the spousal questions of whether he could support me. You will be glad to know he did! It felt really good to hear him speak of me the way he did.

So, I have one more class this spring and then onto Ordination. I am praying that my 91 year old pastor-father will live until then so he can pray over me. I asked him to promise he would live until July, 2009. Even though his health is failing and he is on dialysis 3 times a week, he promised he would try. You can't ask for more than that!


Holy leadership

"I eagerly await the day when the church is able to stop asking whether or not women ought to be in church leadership and begin asking questions about how all our leadership, male and female, may be made more holy." -'Gifted for Leadership, a Community of Christian Women'
This idea of what a Christian, holy leader looks like is really very relevant to the discussion of women in leadership in the church. If the only leadership model available for women is to be the 'iron lady,' the tough, assertive female who is trying to be like a man, then the church will never accept women as their pastor/leader. The quote above comes from a blog sponsored by Christianity Today. The blog discussion of what a Christ-like leader looks like is worth reading. One of the commentators on the blog describes Christ-like, holy behavior. I think this holy behavior really looks good on both men and women leaders. Fortunately, leaders, both female and male, are called to the same standard of leadership set by Christ. We can all learn about holy leadership from the Head of the Church!


Imagine my dismay...

I grew up in England with a queen on the throne and was educated at an all-girls’ school and women’s college in Cambridge by gifted females (and led to Christ by a female medical professional). So after becoming a Christian, imagine my dismay when I first joined a church where women weren’t allowed to do any of the things in which I knew they excelled!"-Jill Briscoe
Fortunately, Jill had the opportunity to actually see women in leadership. It has been my experience that when people see a woman in a pastoral/leadership position; a woman demonstrating her spiritual gifts and calling, then they are better able to recognize that God might just have called her into that position.


"Half-done, thou half-faithful servant"

In fact, I believe I first have to answer to God for his gifts and calling on my life. I don’t want to get to heaven and hear him say, “Half-done, thou half-faithful servant.”...I don’t believe women should bury their gifts or let anyone else bury them. There’s a lost world (of men and women) waiting to hear what God’s gifted women have to say to them. The eternal destiny of these souls may depend on it.- Jill Briscoe

"In Praise of Women Preachers"

Do you want a breath of fresh air? Then go to the article by C. S. Cowles, In Praise of Women Preachers. This will encourage you and give you some truth to speak to yourselves and others on this issue.


Do You Know These Names?

"When asked how many women have ever been democratically elected as a president or prime minister, 66 percent believed there had been less than 10. In fact, there have been more than 50. Iceland, for example, had a woman president for 16 years. Ireland has had women presidents consecutively elected for decades. In the Netherlands Antilles, five female prime ministers have held office. Switzerland has been led by two women presidents." Kim Mance
Check out these names:
  • The Right Honourable Helen Clark, Prime Minister, New Zealand
  • Her Excellency Tarja Halonen, President, Finland
  • Her Excellency Emily Saidy de Jongh-Elhage, Prime Minister, Netherlands Antilles
  • The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister, Jamaica
  • Her Excellency Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President, Latvia (1999-2007)
Click on this link for a longer list of female world leaders.
It is really encouraging to see this long list of women that are role models for other women. Dr. Lee Haines completed a book (started by his wife) listing a history of Women in Ministry in The Wesleyan Church called "Celebrate Our Daughters." Check it out. "This book honors and celebrates the daring women who have contributed much throughout the years to The Wesleyan Church." There are more of us than you think!

Ignored Talent Pool

"When companies overlook women for executive positions, they ignore a vast talent pool and undermine their profitability." -Robin Gerber, author, Katharine Graham: The Leadership Journey of an American Icon
When the church is crying for leadership and overlook women...they too ignore a vast talent pool!


The Culture

So did you look up Answering the Call? It's pretty cool, huhl!
So now that we know the history of the church and the church's positive stance toward women in ministry how do we change the culture in our churches?
Culture? What culture?
The culture that says, "Well, Pastor, we would hire a female youth pastor, but I am worried for you. What would it look like? We don't want you to be tempted." Or, "Well, District Superintendent, we believe women can be ministers, but we don't think we could follow a female leader." Or, to the potential female candidate, "How can women be leaders in the church if they are to be submissive to their husbands?" Changing the culture is not easy! But 100 years ago, it would have been difficult to foresee an African American president! That was difficult to foresee until it happened! This Presidential Inauguration Day should give us hope. So...I guess we just keep talking, teaching, educating, praying, hoping, doing, preaching and answering our call.....


Answering the Call

If you click here....Answering the Call it will take you to a page on The Wesleyan Church's website. Look for the link "Answering the Call" under Women In Ministry and you will find a video well worth watching reminding us of both the historical and the current position The Wesleyan Church holds on Women in Ministry. This video was produced by the "Center for Women in Ministry" and funded by "Wesleyan Women."


"While the church talks constantly about the world's need of the gospel, it's plain the church needs to hear it no less urgently. For only as the church hears the gospel will the apostle be spared seeing in the church what he dreaded seeing in Galatia (5:1); namely, those whom Christ had freed from slavery being betrayed into bondage by the church."--Victor Shepherd


The Feminization of the Ministry

"The feminization of the ministry is one of the most significant trends of this generation. Acceptance of women in the pastoral role reverses centuries of Christian conviction and practice. It also leads to a redefinition of the church and its ministry...Furthermore, the issues of women's ordination and the normalization of homosexuality are closely linked. It is no accident that those churches that most eagerly embraced the ordination of women now either embrace the ordination of homosexuals or are seriously considering such a move." Albert Mohler
What do you think? Do you think that the ordination of homosexuals and the ordination of women are inextricably linked? Is there a slippery slope? If there is a slippery slope does that mean that women should not be ordained? If those who make this argument believe that homosexuals should not be ordained because of their sinful lifestyle, what does that say about the worthiness of women?


Come...follow me

"Recently, I’ve been trying to picture Jesus. Really picture him. Not just slide into a lazy picture of the Jesus in countless religious storefronts on Mission Street… I ask him, “Do you know what it’s like to be me…And if you do, do you have any changes you’d like to make regarding your commands?” I ask because I find some of Jesus’ words hard and culturally insensitive. …Does the suggestion to serve others and take the lowest spot apply when it seems that we often start with the lowest seat—or no seat—at the table?" MORE THAN SERVING TEA
In the article "More Than Serving Tea" Nikki Toyama-Szeto wonders if Jesus really knows what it is like to be her. Sometimes I feel like that too. She found her way through that question as she began to realize
"that her gender and her ethnicity were not obstacles to be overcome but gifts, chosen by God so that I might know him better. They weren’t an after-thought but a grace he had given to me. My gender and my ethnicity continually lead me to a deeper understanding of Jesus. And his call to me is, “Even so…come follow me.” So I bring who I am and follow him." MORE THAN SERVING TEA
That is the best we can do. We can only bring who we are and follow Him!


Servanthood or Authority

"Of primary importance in defining the scriptural role of women in ministry is the biblical meaning of "ministry". Of Christ our great model, it was said, "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). New Testament leadership, as modeled by Jesus, portrays the spiritual leader as a servant. The question of human authority is not of primary significance..." The Role of Women in Ministry
The question of Women in Ministry commonly devolves into a discussion of headship and authority. The question about whether women have the right or privilege to lead is always a part of any discussion about women in pastoral ministry. Headship is usually associated with leadership, authority and power. I am always surprised about this concern since Jesus--as head of the church--is expressed in the context of Savior and the giving of Himself for the Church (the Bride). He laid down His life for His Church...actually for all people! Perhaps the discussion of rightful authority is actually a human concern...


Is it really about your hair?

"If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle."-Hillary Clinton
Whether you are or are not a fan of Hillary Clinton, the truth is that many times during her presidential run the media was more interested in her hair and her pantsuits then they were in her politics. Sometimes this happens with women in the ministry. Parishioners sometimes speak of her in terms that seem trivial and miss what she might really wish they would notice. She is often judged by a different standard than her male counterpart. No it isn't fair and it could be considered sexist. I am not sure what can be done about it. Probably nothing. Hillary did not make it all the way and some are glad she did not. However, she did make it a long way and so can you, even if people only seem to notice your hair or your clothes.


The Center for Women In Ministry

Did you know that The Wesleyan Church has a Center for Women in Ministry? Although it is located at Southern Wesleyan University, you will see as you go to The Center's website that
"contributors to the vision include general church leaders, educational leaders from all five educational institutions of The Wesleyan Church, and concerned ministers and leaders, both male and female. The Center is endorsed by the Task Force on Women in Ministry, the Wesleyan Educational Council, and the General Board of The Wesleyan Church."
Go to the website. See what resources are available. Most of all pray that The Center will be a tool that God may use to facilitate the ministry of women in the Wesleyan Church. Oh, and some money donated to The Center would be nice too. See below...
"Gifts of any size are tax deductible and will help launch this new ministry. Gifts in honor or memory of those who have served in the Church's ministry are especially welcomed. (Though this center is a cooperative venture between all the educational institutions of The Wesleyan Church actual checks may be made payable to Southern Wesleyan University, marked for "Center for Women in Ministry.")
Click on this link to GIVE.



So, are you thinking about ordination? Are you wondering how to get started? Go to the Wesleyan Church's site Education and the Ministry. This is a good place to start to gather information on requirements and the path leading toward ordination. This site will help you learn about the educational options available for you to complete your course work. Contact your District Superintendent. He/She is a good resource to help you get started. Your church's Local Board of Administration (LBA) will need to recommend you to the District Board of Administration (DBA). Then the DBA recommends you to the District Board of Ministerial Development (DBMD). Once this happens you will meet at least once a year with the DBMD. They will monitor your development as you proceed through the process. Any questions?