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Women in Ministry

Founded by the forward thinking Mary Lyon (1797-1849), Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Massachusetts (today known as Mount Holyoke College) was not her first educational venture. Lyon taught for several years along the Massachusetts countryside in smaller, elementary schools (often paid far less than the men in the area for the same amount of work). From 1817 to 1821, she attended Sanderson Academy and later taught there, as well as at the Adams Female Seminary in New Hampshire and Ipswich Female Seminary. Mount Holyoke opened in South Hadley in 1837 with eighty students, and it is Fidelia Fiske (1816-1864) who became its first graduate to enter into international missions. Fiske was said to be a precocious young girl, reading Cotton Mather’s Magnali Christi... Read more
We hear a lot about God speaking to women through men. But, does God ever speak to men through women? Let’s look at the biblical record. ‘After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples:... Read more
Can't we just agree to disagree? Have you found yourself sharing the Bible’s support for women’s gospel-service when someone asserts emphatically, ‘Can’t we just agree to disagree? This isn’t a salvation issue, after all!’ And, being peace-loving Christians, we are at first inclined to agree, until we remember someone like Lottie Moon. Considered one of the great missionaries of all time, Moon’s refusal to obey male authority led to the salvation of many. Lottie’s male supervisor opposed her desire to build a church in Northern China, where she not only made massive inroads for the gospel, but where she also inspired the next generation of Christian missionaries - and all the generations since then! Today, Lottie is celebrated... Read more
Complementarian men say they believe women are equal, but what do they mean by that? If they believe men have authority over women, are women equal? No. If men have more authority than women, this is not equality. If men get to make the final decisions in the marriage, are women equal? No, since the man’s word counts for more than the woman’s, this is not equality. If the men are the spiritual leaders of their wives, are women equal? The purpose of one person being the spiritual leader over another is so one is spiritually stronger than the other. If it is presumed that men are automatically spiritually stronger than the women then no, this is not equality. There are complementarian men who put more emphasis on wives submitting than on husbands loving. If less emphas... Read more
I was recently invited to a women’s meeting by a neighbor whom I was just getting to know and wanting to encourage in her Christian life. This friend really enjoys these meetings and the fellowship of other Christian women there, and she wanted to share this with me. On arrival, I noticed a couple there whom I knew from our district and a man (of the couple) who was attending to the overhead projector. I assumed he was there for technical support. After the meeting I asked my neighbor about why this man was there that night, and she replied that he was there every week. I didn't press the issue at that point, but the next day I looked on the internet for this particular group of women's ministries and discovered that they always have an ‘advisor’ at their gat... Read more
She wore plain clothing, a white dress, a white bonnet, and a rather drab shawl, but her Christian life was vibrant, colorful, and focused on the work of the gospel. When, in the early 1800s, Elizabeth Fry dedicated her life to the pursuit of a Quaker life, her family was not pleased. Only her brother, Joseph Gurney, really stuck by her side through it all. In her supposed radical devotion, Fry struggled intensely between her desire for the comfortable and prestigious life she was used to and her desire to promote only the glory of Christ. This accounts for her seemingly constant state of depression evident in her journal and sometimes weight loss. Fry is best known for her prison reform, call for fair treatment of the insane, and opposition to the death penalty. Her famous work began... Read more
The following article is a guest post submitted by Anita Bell, ordained pastor in the PCUSA Church. Rev. Bell offers the following reflections on her denomination in hopes that her critique would continue to call believers to solid scholarship surrounding the empowerment of women and men in ministry and encourage her denomination to clear and cohesive action as they strive to live out their statement of faith. Some of my friends are thinking about leaving our PCUSA fellowship for EPC pastures. They plan to go as a whole- men and women, lay and ordained. They offer to circle the wagon in this new denominational home, through non-geographic presbyteries, to protect and uphold their women called to ordained leadership. Yet, it is not hard to imagine the established EP... Read more
I was working on my thesis in seminary. Tired of being asked if I was going to seminary to be a pastor's wife, I had decided to write a biblical theology of single women in ministry that would show God's calling for a woman was not dependent on her marital state. I was talking with my thesis advisor, Dr. Joseph Coleson, the professor of Old Testament Studies. He had looked at my outline and thesis proposal and told me that I needed to add a chapter addressing the Creation Story in Genesis 1:1—2:25, particularly the second creation account found in Gen. 2:5-25, where woman is created to be an ezer cenegdo to the man. If the Hebrew phrase simply meant "helper", then could a woman hold a leadership position in the church, let alone a single woman? But if th... Read more
A prominent sociologist on evangelicals, Sally Gallagher, has much to say to egalitarians in her article, The Marginalization of Evangelical Feminism. She questions, when 56% of evangelical women are employed outside the home and when many evangelical marriages are egalitarian in practice, why evangelicals as a whole have still rejected mutuality and partnership between the genders. One important point she makes is that well-known evangelical leaders have effectively linked evangelical feminism with androgyny. I have personally seen this many times from complementarian writing—statements like “evangelical feminists and their efforts to blur the genders that God made so beautifully distinct.” Complementarians have had definite success in convincing many people bo... Read more
Salon has an article on Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church. I was so sad after reading this article. In short they've taken the post-WW2 culture, and they are trying to make it biblical. Following Driscoll's biblical reading of prescribed gender roles, women quit their jobs and try to have as many babies as possible. And these are no mere women who fear independence, who are looking to live by the simple tenets of fundamentalist credo, enforced by a commanding husband: many of the women of Mars Hill reluctantly abandon successful lives lived on their own terms to serve their husbands and their Lord. So if Deborah went to Mars Hill, she would have had to resign from being a prophet and judge, and who would have led Israelite troops to victory over Sisera? I g... Read more

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