The Lord gives the command;
The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host: Psalm 68:11 NASB
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:” Acts 2:16-18 KJV
I should be working on a project due tomorrow. But my mind is on women in Christianity, particularly the controversy within the Church about women in ministerial leadership. The Church universal has had women who served their Lord in various ways in the life of the Church. Women were Doctors of the Church, deaconesses, teachers of Bishops, mystics, abbesses, missionaries, evangelists, Bible translators, preachers.
The current debate advanced during the 19th century via the Wesleyan-Holiness movement in the UK and the U.S. and driven by the modern feminist movement is about women’s roles in Church leadership. The older communions, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy (and traditional Anglicanism in many respects) do not ordain women to the priesthood primarily because of their view that only men can sacramentally represent Christ in his maleness. The Apostles were all male, and their is no record within Scripture or Tradition (according to their reading) that women held the office of bishop/elder/priest. Eastern Orthodoxy honors the wives of priests by given them honorary titles of presbytera, a female elder.
Protestant churches are not without debate concerning this issue. So-called mainline Protestant churches like the Episcopal Church (Anglican), Presbyterian Church USA, ELCA, Christian (Disciples of Christ), United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church currently ordain women.
Conservative Protestant denominations like Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, Southern Baptist Convention, Presbyterian Church in America, Orthodox Presbyterian Church of America do not ordain women. Other denominations like the Evangelical Covenant Church, the Free Methodist Church, Church of Nazarene, Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland, TN)Foursquare Church, and Church of God (Anderson, IN) ordain women as pastors, elders, and/or bishops, but the numbers become slim over the years. Many non-denominational evangelical churches do not ordain women. A minority does.
Historic African American churches can fall on both sides of this debate. The historic Black Baptist denominations do not have an official position on this issue. Each church is autonomous and decides on it’s own whether or not do ordain a woman. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) ordains women. Three women are currently serving as bishops in the AME. The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) do not ordain women as elders, however they do ordain women as chaplains. Women also serve as licensed evangelists, missionaries. Many women in COGIC belong to the Department of Women, arguably the most powerful religious organization founded by women with the African American Church collectively. This Department has district supervisors also known as “Church Mothers” (See C.T. Gilkes, “Together and in Harness: Women’s Traditions in the Sanctified Church” and A. Butler’s dissertation “A Peculiar Synergy: Matriarchy and the Church of God in Christ” ). Other women within COGIC serve pastors at the discretion of the jurisdictional bishop though they are not ordained. Other women left the COGIC to join other denominations to serve or started their own churches.
You may ask “Why so distracted by this issue away from important matters like getting your project done on time?” Well, I have been committed to developing a scripturally sound, and theologically coherent defense of the ordination of women in church leadership. I eventually will do a masters thesis when I get to graduate school. Such an argument will find bring a draw insight Christology, theological anthropology, soteriology and ecclesiology.
Enough of my thoughts, I leave you with a praise break from one of my favorite woman preachers: the Reverend Dr. Claudette Anderson Copeland from New Creation Christian Fellowship, a non-denominational Classical Pentecostal church in San Antonio, TX. She has served as Pastor for more than 20 years and now currently serves as Co-Pastor and is the founder of Destiny Ministries, an international ministry for women and children and has an itinerant preaching ministry.
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