Why Do United Methodists Ordain Women When the Bible Specifically Prohibits it? By Tom McAnally
This question is usually prompted by Paul’s comments in I Timothy 2:8-15 (NRSV):
I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.
United Methodists take this scripture, like all scripture, and reflect on it critically in light of their Biblical and theological inheritance.
Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, believed that the living core of the Christian faith was "revealed in Scripture, illuminated by tradition, vivified in personal and experience, and confirmed by reason." In the United Methodist Church this way of examining Scripture and doing theology is sometimes referred to as the "Wesleyan quadrilateral."
Wesley’s position, and the position of the United Methodist Church, is that Scripture is primary. The United Methodist Book of Discipline notes, however, that the Christian witness, "even when grounded in Scripture and mediated by tradition, is ineffectual unless understood and appropriated by the individual. To become our witness, it must make sense in terms of our own reason and experience."
What matters most, according to the Discipline, is that "all four guidelines be brought to bear in faithful, serious, theological consideration. Insights arising from serious study of the Scriptures and tradition enrich contemporary experience. Imaginative and critical thought enables us to understand better the Bible and our common Christian history."
One reference from Paul may appear to rule out the ordination of women but United Methodists also take into account other scriptural references as well as our tradition, experience and reason.
* The creation stories of Genesis tell of God making female and male in God’s own image. God placed them in the garden to work in harmonious partnership.
* Old Testament prophets call for justice, speak out against inequities, and stand with the oppressed.
* Jesus Christ had women as friends, disciples and witnesses,. He challenged the conventional beliefs of his day that women were inferior and men were superior.
* The Apostle Paul called the people of God to create a world where the gifts of both women and men are celebrated and used, where "there is neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28).
The United Methodist Church, by polity and practice, supports the full inclusion of women in every aspect of church life. Among groups that specifically work to eliminate sexism and promote the full inclusion of women are the Commission on Status and Role of Women, with offices in Evanston, Ill., and the Board of Higher Education and Ministry, with offices in Nashville, Tenn.
The Methodist Episcopal Church licensed and ordained women as local preachers in the early 1920s. However that position changed in 1939 at the time of union with the Methodist Episcopal Church South and the Methodist Protestant Church. In 1956 full clergy rights were granted to women in The Methodist church. The last of the mainline Protestant denominations (The Episcopal Church) did not approve ordination of women until 1976.
The United Methodist Church has 8,124 clergywomen serving in some capacity, according to a 2001 statistical report by the church's General Council on Finance and Administration. Of that number, 4,572 are elders in full connection. In contrast, the church has 28,101 male clergy in full connection. The denomination has 43,965 clergy leading congregations or serving in ministries beyond the local church.
If you are a woman and feel called by God to ordained ministry, contact:
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Section of Elders and Local Pastors Rev. Marion A. Jackson, Director of Continuing Education for Ministry (and Clergy Women Concerns) PO Box 340007 Nashville, TN 37203-0007 615/340-7391; FAX: 615/340-7395 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom McAnally is the retired director of the United Methodist News Service.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Well, you know, you think a conversation has ended and then it just comes back up again. At least this time it was in a positive manner. This time it was encouraging, not discouraging. This time I was reminded of all the many reasons I am thankful to be "the small town."
It has not always been that pleasant. Recently, a group of people left from my congregation to form a new church. One of the main reasons: You guessed it. Women in ministry.
So, here I am a 27 year old female serving in ministry. This is my first appointment and in the first six months an entire group leaves the church to begin a new church. Why? Because I am here. This summer will mark the 54th year that the United Methodist Church has been ordaining women into fully connected ministry. That is right, over 50 years ago we, as a denomination, affirmed the call that God placed on the lives of many talented women. Over 50 years later, we are still talking about whether or not this is biblical. You know, I understand that the women who were ordained in 1956 were subject to lengthy conversations about this topic, but I am not sure I understand why this is still a debate in many local United Methodist Churches. I find it a bit on the redundant side, but that is just me.
Often we have taken the words of the Apostle Paul out of the historical context in which they were written. We have taken his words and used them to hinder many individuals instead of uplifting others, spreading the gospel, and proclaiming the good news like they were intended to do.
I am attaching an article from the United Methodist Church about this matter. I love the United Methodist Church. I love the manner in which the focus tends to be social justice oriented but yet all grounded in the redeeming love of Christ. What to talk with me more... Just let me know!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I was recently invited to take part in a young clergy discussion group every other month with the bishop. Have I mentioned that I am a minister? Oh, well, yeah I am. For the record I am a 27 year old, female, United Methodist minister. Ummm yeah, there are not many of us. Anyway this group is interesting. I think I am going to learn a great deal from this group of people. Most of them have been in ministry longer than I have, and seem to have a great deal to offer to both the local church and the connectional system. I am excited! Well, that is enough on the church front.
In other news, apparently my beloved ZUMBA class is getting full early...like 15 minuets before class starts. I was sad when I walked in on time (as to not have the embarrassing front of the room situation) and there was no space left. Nonetheless I worked out anyway on the treadmill... not as fun as dancing but it got the job done.
As the nation as been debating about the Leno vs. Connan "Tonights Show" drama, I thought I would give my opinion. I am definitely a Leno fan....even though my sweet boyfriend is a CoCo fan. I just do not think Connan is funny, not even a little bit.
Monday, January 25, 2010
This weekend I was fortunate enough to get to "travel" to the BIG CITY. That is right, I got in my car, drove about 2 hours, and arrived in Atlanta with the Liza dog in tow. Liza loves car rides... and I am not just saying that because we drive so much. Really, she loves to ride in the car. She places her hind legs on the back seat and her front legs on the arm rest thingy that also stores stuff (what do you call that thing?). She loves to look. For the entire 2 hours that it took us to get from Montgomery to ATL, she stood up, looked at the cars we passed, occasionally barked, and wagged her little tail feather the entire way.
When we arrived in Atlanta, I got to see some wonderful friends that I had not seen in quite awhile. I will tell you, friends are good for the soul, they really are. It did me a worlds of good to see some of these familiar faces. We chatted about struggles, life, joys, and the future. I am telling you.... it was W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L!!! We ate at "The Grove" which has basically the best wings in the world and sweet potato fries to die for! None of this is healthy (or weight watchers approved) but it was so yummy. Very much like the good ole' days when I lived in Atlanta.
What a wonderful city.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
For the record, I am trying to do weight watchers. Not because I think I am grossly overweight, but because I need to be more mindful of what I eat.... lets be honest, I am not a 20 year old college student anymore. Back in the day I could eat almost anything and it would not matter. Well, that is not the case these days.
Nonetheless, today I decided to go to a Mexican restaurant with a group of young people in ministry. The typical routine of this group is a lunch meeting each Tuesday. Normally I cannot attend this event because of staff meeting but today I was able. Bad decision. Well, at least in regard to my WW plan, loved the company. I found the most healthy thing on the menu. A soft shell taco with guacamole. It had lettuce and tomato...vegetables, right? Wrong. At the end of lunch I had 2.5 points left for the day. Those chips and salsa will get ya. Sad. I obviously did not eat much dinner tonight.... salad. Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be better. Also, in college I hated Mexican food, yes even Auburn's best: Loradoes. Perhaps that was helpful.
So, a word to the wise.....
If you are trying to do weight watchers, do not eat lunch at a Mexican restaurant.
Today I also went back to my ZUMBA class. For those of you who are unfamiliar with ZUMBA this is an aerobic dance class. I love it! I was really excited that I was able to go back for the first time since the New Year. Well, I walked into class (a bit late), and it was overly crowded. Apparently half of the women in Prattville have decided to take up ZUMBA for their "this year's" resolution. It was fun having so many people in the class. My one qualm: the entire back row was full. Therefore, I had to "dance" in the middle of the room. For the record, I have absolutely, positively, no rhythm. When most people learned how to dance, I was listening to jam band music like Jupiter Coyote at the high school dances.
Late + Middle of the Room+ No Rhythm = Embarrassment (with a great workout!)
A word to the wise....
Be on time for ZUMBA.
Monday, January 18, 2010
So, I have decided to attempt to blog. I am not exactly sure why this sounded like a good idea but I thought it could be a bit of a creative outlet. I suppose I should start by sharing a bit about myself. I am the associate minister in a medium sized Methodist church. I grew up in Montgomery, attended Auburn University (WAR EAGLE!), and recently received my masters from Emory. I loved living in Atlanta for three years. When I moved into my house off Lavista Road, there was a goat in my neighborhood. Yes, you read that correctly. A Goat! At that point I decided that Atlanta could not be that much different than Auburn, Alabama and realized the city and I would become good friends; which we did. I adore the city.... really any city. I do not mind the traffic and normally realize if I am stuck in a jam, it is the result of poor planning on my part. I am not a fan of the smog (who is?), but I think that Piedmont Park is an adequate exchange. I love the shopping, oodles of local restaurants, cheap and readily available organic food, and my deep friendships. Nonetheless God called be back home. So, here I am, serving a wonderful church in a somewhat small town trying to be a suburbia. Not exactly the one of the funky areas in Atlanta that I adore, but it is a great community and I am learning more than I ever expected.
Since today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I want to end with this quote.
"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals"
As I society, I realize we are still continuing Dr. Kings work toward the goal of justice. I hope we are all "dedicated individuals."