My Experience Serving on the Commission for Biblical Gender Equality

Post a Comment » Written on November 8th, 2017     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Jeff Ondrey is the Director of Nursing Home Operations for Heritage Ministries and is a member of First Covenant Church in Jamestown, New York. He recently completed his tenure of service as a lay member of the Commission of Biblical Gender equality.

I was asked to serve on this commission back in 2011 presumably because at the time I was finishing up as a board member for Camp Mission Meadows in western New York on beautiful Lake Chautauqua. This was also presumably because of the fact that my daughters and my wife had served or were serving the Covenant Church through employment or serving on the board of the Great Lakes conference. Upon agreement I received a packet of information about the Commission, its history, its challenges and its present status.

I was asked to read a book and submit a brief review of it for my first meeting. This book was by Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Place in Church and Family (Baker Books, 1985). This book, in addition to the many resources that are listed to the right side of this blog, were instrumental in educating me to an area in the life of the Evangelical Covenant Church of which I had previously not been very well informed. After the first couple of meetings, it became apparent that a stated goal of the Commission was to establish a blog that could be used to inform and to enable conversation surrounding the issues that women and particularly women pastors regularly face. At that time my daughter Sarah was working for the denomination as the web content manager and in short order she was able to assist me in setting up the format and initiating a new blog on the Covenant web site.

I guess that if I look back and consider my six years of experience on this Commission, I would have to say that I have certainly gained an appreciation for the courage of women that have been called by God to enter seminary and ultimately to become pastors only to be thwarted in many instances because of the continued inability of some churches to get beyond their own biases and cemented theology that is not at all open to different interpretations of scriptures — this despite the fact that the denomination voted to ordain women over 40 years ago.

Never-the-less, the Covenant denomination maintains a congregational form of church governance. We are not ruled by the pope of the Covenant. I can only hope and pray that God will continue to inform pastors and members of our churches that God does in fact call women, who being created in the image and likeness of God were created as equally qualified for leading our congregations toward a fuller relationship with Christ. Let us all remember, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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