Several months ago, the Ohio Conference Leadership Development Resource Team surveyed pastors and leaders of Ohio Conference congregations about attitudes regarding women in ministry. The team has shared their findings with the Ohio Conference Leadership Team. Below is a response from the Leadership Team:
The Leadership Team has gratefully received the work of the Leadership Development Resource Team’s Summary of Women in Ministry Survey and commends it to our member congregations and our delegate body.
The Leadership Team strongly affirms the leadership of women in all areas of congregational and Conference life, including that of a lead or solo pastor. This affirmation aligns with the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, which serves as the guide for our common teaching, practice and life together.
The Leadership Team commits to work with the Leadership Development Resource Team to implement the recommendations outlined in this report, including the development of women for pastoral leadership from our member congregations as well as actively recruiting women from outside of the Conference to fill open pastoral positions. However, if there is to be tangible change in the numbers of women serving as pastoral leaders, it will require not only the leadership of the Conference but also the active participation of congregations.
The ongoing shortage of pastoral leaders necessitates that congregations take an active role in developing and calling forth the gifts of both women and men to serve our churches. We acknowledge that far too often women have not received the same attention or investment in their development, and we urge churches to actively identify women who have the gifts and capabilities to serve the church.
We encourage congregations to consider the following:
- To review with your leadership team the results of the survey and to discuss what, if any, barriers might exist in the congregation for female leaders.
- To conduct a Bible study or Sunday school class that biblically affirms the gifts of women for pastoral ministry.
- To regularly preach sermons that highlight women in the Bible.
- To consider women in the congregation who have capabilities and gifts for pastoral ministry/congregational leadership and to actively work at developing those gifts by providing opportunities and mentoring.
- To regularly provide opportunities for women within and outside the congregation to preach. This is particularly important if the primary pastor in the congregation is a male. Pulpits continue to be seen as the place of pastoral power in many churches, and to provide opportunities for women to preach enlarges the vision of who are bearers of the word.
We encourage leaders and pastors of our churches to prayerfully reflect on the results of this survey and to consider how the above suggestions might be implemented in your individual congregation as well as taking part in the wider Conference initiatives based on this survey. As a Conference we are committed to ensuring that women continue to be represented on all of our leadership and ministry teams, as well as in speaking roles at Conference gatherings. When the gifts of all our members, regardless of their gender, are affirmed and called forth, we honor Christ Jesus and participate in creating communities that reflect Christ’s reign.
The Ohio Conference Leadership Team
Terry Shue, moderator
Paula Snyder Belousek, assistant moderator
Vickie Yoder, Credentialing Ministry chair
Alvis Pettker, Gifts Discernment Ministry chair
Andrew Blount, Stewardship Ministry chair
Dick Barrett, conference minister
Editor’s note: Eighty-five pastors and leaders from 27 congregations responded to the Leadership Development Resource Team’s survey regarding women in ministry.
Many respondents expressed strong support for women to serve in leadership, both in general and specifically as pastors.
To read the Leadership Development Resource Team’s summary report, including their general observations, conclusions, and suggestions for moving forward, go to the Ohio Conference website: http://bit.ly/WomeninMinistrySurvey.