The Reformed Theological Seminary, Mkar

Women in Church Ministry - Moses Pinga

The role of women in church ministry throughout history cannot be overemphasized. However, their role has never been free from controversy. The Controversy may be defined based on doctrinal issues and on individual churches. Today, most churches are concerned with discussing the place of women in the ministry. Reformed Church Of Christ is crucial to these discussion for the average church and particularly to the reformed church of Christ is the matters of faithful biblical interpretation.

Are women actually authorized to preach in public? This has ever being a heated debate between and among different faith and the body of Christ. The whether or not of women to be ordained ministers of the gospel or head of churches, make public assertions and speeches. This is interpreted by many as an injustice and gender biasness. What brought about this bottleneck is the fact that many confuse the concept of ministry with the church tradition of ordination.

The early church had a varied and faithful ministry where God's people through the gift of the Holy Spirit chose the task of building One another. The Bible in different places emphasized the gift of the holy spirit in doing different works by different people (1 Cor. 12:4-19; Rom 123-8). The above references clearly distinguish roles based on God's grace through the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is different from ordination roles played.

Modern debates over the ordination of women often contradict or miss crucial and basic issues of the holistic concept of the ministry of the church reflected in the New Testament. Ministry and ordination are both designed services for those called by God. However, right from creation and history, roles were designed for both sexes, male and female. The priestly roles were being handled by the Levites and only the males took/handled such responsibilities. {Ezekiel 44:1S, Joshua 3:3).


MINISTRY AND ORDINATION ARE BOTH DESIGNED SERVICES FOR THOSE CALLED BY GOD

Women in ministry this time were playing supportive roles and not the actual ordained roles of the priest. Acts 18:26 explicitly explains how Priscilla helped Aquila her husband in handling ministerial issues in Ephesus. This conforms with the purpose of creation. God made woman from man, she is to be a helper (Gen 2:21-23), and never to be a general overseer, or publicly exercise powers and authority, to this end, many have argued that, even during Jesus’ ministry, women were usually regarded as subordinates in virtually every area of life. They were to remain at home, to be good wives and mothers, and to take no part in public discourse or education. Josephus, a Jewish historian, said "the woman, says the law, is in all things inferior to the man. Let her accordingly be submissive". Sirach also said that the "Better is the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good". This clearly portrays the culture of the Mediterranean people who saw women excesses as a disgrace to ones' claim of honour. It is also in this perspective that Paul cautioned women to be submissive to their husbands, and not to raise up their hands in holy places or preach publicly.

Jesus on the contrary, in his teaching and actions, affirmed the worth and value of women as persons to be included with men within God's love and service. Jesus tolerated no such kind of "male Chauvinism". Jesus reached out to women who were rejected. In spite of the laws regarding uncleanness, Jesus rather commended the faith of the woman with the issue of blood who touched Him. (Mark 5:25-34); Jesus permitted services of a sinful woman who anointed and kissed His feet (Luke 7:36-50).

Women were so significant in Jesus' ministry. He taught Mary of Bethany and commended her learning to her sister who was carrying out the traditional tasks, (Luke 10:38-42); He made His most explicit affirmation of His messianic mission to the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-42). The presence of women at Jesus' crucifixion and burial and resurrection (Luke 23:49, 55-56; 24:1) shows their significance in the ministry.

However, the forgoing on no account proved that women were ordained priests for the ministry. Women were only found doing charitable work and carrying out hospitable tasks. Examples of such women are Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the "other" Mary, Mary of Bethany, Joana, Susanna and Salome. This is a proof that Jesus had good partnership with women and men who were powerful witnesses Of His ministry to the early church. Therefore, in Order to achieve and record Success in the ministry, the role of women must be upheld, since in every gathering (in my own opinion), the women normally outnumber the men. Women should coordinate, and handle women related issues such as disputes amongst them, quarrels, counseling, exhorting the women fellowship, encouraging and praying for their husbands, the church, and the ministry.

Participation in these and many more does and will not make any woman fit for ordination. Look at the church at Philippi, the women will go outside the gate to the riverside where there was a place of prayer to pray on the Sabbath day. It was there that Paul and Silas went to speak with them as the women came together (Acts 16:13). This is also a clear picture of role differentiation.

In the Reformed circle, women are only allowed to hold fellowship among themselves, carry out prayer meetings, visitations and other necessary activities that could help them organize themselves. All these are done under close supervision of the pastor. Thus, it’s proven that women ministry is not independent of the church administration and leadership.

For the women seeking independence, it is not correct, it means the allusion of authority for establishment of women unit churches, and ordination of women pastors. This applies to the Universal Reformed Christian Church as it is the case with other Pentecostal churches. Women's role in the Universal Reformed Christian Church is not just crucial, it is also indisputable and indispensable. Therefore, women should not abandon their core roles of leading women, counseling, settling disputes in the church and homes, marital misunderstandings, advising young women, praying for pastors, the children, and the general church for the task of preaching on the pulpit.