Archive for June, 2013

How Did I Get Here?…with Reflections on The Bible Made Impossible

1 Comment » Written on June 27th, 2013     
Filed under: Book & Commentary

Bible impossibleThere are times when I have wondered how in the world I ever got selected to be a member of the Covenant’s Commission on Biblical Gender Equality.  I have never been outspoken on my own views on the matter.  Perhaps it was because of my role as a board member for Camp Mission Meadows?  Perhaps it was because of my leadership role in a healthcare organization that primarily employs women?  Perhaps it was because I am the father of two very capable daughters, one with the goal of someday teaching in a Seminary and the other working in a responsible position with the denomination.  Perhaps it was because I am married to a woman that is highly perceptive and skilled in counseling individuals and couples and one who is known to be open and direct in her communications at a board level.

I do know this…as a result of serving on this commission; I have become much more sensitized and educated about what the issues are for women in ministry.  I am struck and often dumbfounded as to how different camps can view specific passages in scripture in fundamentally different ways.  I am even more dumbfounded when some maintain specific positions with virtually no biblical or scriptural basis for their own chosen viewpoint.  Recently though, I have opted to not be so surprised by all of this.  After all, if the Bible was so perfectly written, then why do we have so many different denominations and varieties of faith that are based upon specific interpretations of various passages in the Bible? Continue Reading »

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Book review: Man and Woman: One in Christ

Post a Comment » Written on June 22nd, 2013     
Filed under: Book & Commentary

Book cover

Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters by Philip B. Payne.

This in-depth book encompasses something of a lifetime’s work of earnestly reading and researching Scripture, seeking to investigate all of Paul’s teachings on women in ministry, and wrestling with the text in order to understand the meaning of Paul’s statements about women, and their relevance for the church today.

Meticulously taking each of the passages that are commonly used to argue against women in ministry and leadership in the church, the author leads the reader through Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 7, 11, 12 and 14, as well as Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, 1 Timothy 2-3 and Titus 1. Investigating both the wider use of individual words that Paul uses, and the original contexts to which the letters were written, Payne affirms that Paul consistently champions the equality of man and woman in Christ in his writings – and calls for the church to affirm Paul’s teaching and reject the view of ‘separate but equal’ leadership roles for men and women.

The book seeks to find a balance between being an accessible read, and faithfully representing 36 years of biblical scholarship on the issue – something which it achieves, as long as the reader is willing to persevere past the regular referral to Greek words! Payne, who has taught at Cambridge University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gordon-Conwell, Bethel and Fuller Theological Seminaries, and comes from an Evangelical Free Church background, does a great job of focusing on the centrality of the text and its meaning throughout.

Highly recommended for those who really want to dig in and seek to understand Paul’s teachings on men and women.

Find this book through Indiebound or Amazon or in your local bookstore.

Book review by Alice Hague.


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Not Allowed

1 Comment » Written on June 17th, 2013     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

By Rev. Gricel Medina (OWS)
CBGE Chairperson

not allowedEntitlement comes in many forms. It is often so ingrained that we can be so oblivious to its offensive odor. Jesus went through various forms of discrimination, so why are we so surprised in the church when issues of race and gender come up? The reality is that when people are excluded from the table of decision by omission it is a form of discrimination. Ignorance does not exonerate us. I have encountered people who are deliriously mesmerized with self importance. They hold on for dear life to positions and advocate for the exclusion of others out of fear.

Making the mistake of not including others because of gender, race or any personal bias from the mission of the church, can be costly. Unfortunately, I have experienced the pain of listening to sermons that are eloquent, yet carelessly use language that is gender and/or racially disrespectful. Continue Reading »

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Unwritten laws…

Post a Comment » Written on June 12th, 2013     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

The Evangelical Covenant Church has affirmed women for ordination and leadership in the church since 1976. So part of me asks why do we even need a Commission for Biblical Gender Equality any more? Yet as I speak with colleagues in ministry and hear some of the rhetoric that continues in the wider evangelical church, I realize that there continues to be barriers to women in ministry in many places – even in our denomination.

Some of those barriers appear to come from unwritten laws or things better left unsaid. An example: many churches follow the lectionary, a three-year cycle of Scripture readings which can be used to provide a wide overview of the Biblical narrative, such that over the three years, congregations and preachers work through a broad base of both the Old and New Testaments and their teachings. While this means that we are exposed to a wide range of texts, there are some things left unsaid: in particular, those more difficult texts (thanks, Paul!) about the roles of men and women in the church.

The unspoken message for me is that some texts are simply too hard – so let’s ignore them and not get in a fight about it! Yet I find myself asking whether that’s healthy. Shouldn’t we go to the hard texts and ask the questions? Shouldn’t we read the texts together, seeking understanding and empowering God’s people for ministry? As we journey together through God’s word, we learn to love God and each other more, despite differences. So let’s take those passages on women in ministry that we might prefer to ignore (I know I sometimes do) and do the hard work of theology – of really seeking to consider the teaching, and its relevance for our church today. Only if we address the texts – to go through them rather than around them – will we move on from the unspoken rules and the unasked or unanswered questions that lead to unseen barriers to women in senior leadership in our churches and congregations.

Blog contribution by A Hague.

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Looking Closer

1 Comment » Written on June 7th, 2013     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

mag glassTo say many women are in a place of transition is an understatement. I heard this week of several gifted women who cannot find placement in churches as lead pastors due to this unspoken code of women in authority. It angered me to be reminded that this still goes on.

As a former church planter, my ministry life has been a series of deserts, valleys, storms and mountain views. Writing has been a great source of healing and spiritual directives. I am constantly reflecting on what to discard and what to preserve.

In the midst of it all I have had many doors of opportunity. Doors that have brought out a creative and innovative part of me into visibility. My heart is overwhelmed with the faithfulness of God. Doors have opened in the secular school system and corporate businesses in my community. My passion for evangelism has found many outlets in these marketplaces. It has been a time of seed planting and harvest. Continue Reading »

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Barriers and Bridges: Advocating For Women In Ministry

Post a Comment » Written on June 2nd, 2013     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Dr. Kurt Fredrickson is the current director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary and a former Covenant Pastor.  We recently provided a link to his presentation at the 2012 CATS Women’s Association Gender Panel.  Dr. Fredrickson graciously agreed to provide the following blog post on Advocating for Women in Ministry.


Contributed by:
Kurt Fredrickson, PhD
Fuller Theological Seminary

barrierI affirm the full participation of women in the ministries of the church. Women, just like men, are called and gifted to serve in the church. This affirmation emerges from the testimony of Scripture and has been lived out by the church in many ways throughout its history. Paul puts it this way in Galatians chapter three: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Since 1976 the Evangelical Covenant Church has been ordaining women, recognizing that gender is not a barrier to a person serving in any capacity in the church. The Covenant states that “the biblical basis for service in the body of Christ is giftedness, a call from God, and godly character—not gender.”

Advocating for women in ministry was a significant struggle in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Great strides were made to affirm the service of women in all aspects of the life of the church. With the rise of the neo-Reformed movement, and the influence of fundamentalist leaning churches, it is vital to be intentional and deliberate about affirming the full participation of women serving in the church again. Continue Reading »

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