Thursday, June 14, 2007

CRC lifts barrier to female ministers -

CRC lifts barrier to female ministers -
"GRAND RAPIDS -- History came quietly to the Christian Reformed Church on Tuesday night, but progress remains to be made.

That was the feeling of longtime advocates of women's ordination who watched the CRC Synod remove the word 'male' from its requirements for church office.

After 37 years of back-and-forth struggle, delegates opened the way for women to become ministers in any of the CRC's 1,000-plus churches. If other proposed changes are approved as expected today, women also will be able to serve as delegates to the Synod for the first time. ..."
I saw this article linked yesterday in the Kruse Kronicle.

According to an article in today's Christian Post, women who are selected as delegates to Synod will be seated next year:
"... After debates broke out last year over the restriction of women from serving as synodical deputies (synod representatives) delegates at Synod 2007 – the eight-day meeting of the church's broadest assembly – decided to open for the first time the way for women to be delegates to next year's synod.

"Let’s take note, pause and reflect,” said Rev. Bruce Persenaire from Classis (regional assembly) Central California, according to CRC Communications. “We will now be seating women delegates."

The vote followed Tuesday's decision to remove the word "male" as a requirement for holding ecclesiastical office in the church and to allow women to be ordained as ministers, elders, deacons or ministry associates. In an effort to maintain unity in the church body by respecting the convictions of those who believe the Bible prohibits women serving as office bearers, synod representatives also decided to allow classes (regional assemblies) to set restrictions on women serving as delegates to classis meetings. ..."

One issue that this raises for the PC(USA) is that there have been few reformed denominations that recognize that both women and men are called to ministries in the Church. Many have therefore predicted that there would not be a mass exodus of Presbyterians as a result of real and imagined shortcomings of the PC(USA). This move by the Christian Reformed Church may have an effect on that dynamic.

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church has had "local option" for a few years now, but it is generally noted that few congregations have exercised that option. I suspect that the PC(USA) congregations that have already been dismissed to the EPC have more than doubled the number of ordained women in that denomination.

The Christian Reformed Church seems to have adopted "local option" as well, so its effect on any exodus from the PC(USA) may be minimal. In any case this is a positive move and I wish the CRC well as they embark on this path.


Quotidian Grace said...

Thanks for calling attention to this development, Denis. I agree with you that it looks similar to the EPC's local option. Time will tell whether more in the CRC will ordain women than we've seen in the EPC. Very interesting...

Denis Hancock said...

It should be interesting. My understanding is that the EPC will recognize PC(USA) ordinations, but the form of government of the CRC is different. There really isn't a way to laterally transfer, or so it seems.

Personally, I would have to become FAR more uncomfortable with the PC(USA) before I would consider transferring my membership -- and I would not consider any reformed denomination that told my wife that her talents as a teacher and leader are not needed and that her ordination as an elder was not valid.

DennisS said...

I'm ordained RCA, called to a PCUSA congregation, and never miss the Worship Symposium held at the CRC Mecca of Calvin College and Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids.

It's my understanding that the CRC has had the "local" option for a while now - but it was very rarely used. I know a CRC fellow who married an RCA gal when they were both attending the same seminary. They are called to plant a church - both very gifted in music and preaching. They are planting in the CRC, but had to find a place where her ordination would be recognized. So, some possibilities were actually closed because the local ordaining body would not recognize her as a co-pastor.

I'm glad the CRC has made this move. They've had a couple of gals in their seminary, though I think they've maybe had to be theology majors - rather than M.Div students.

Denis Hancock said...

After perusing your blog, It seems you are from Larned -- Is that correct? I taught at Sterling College from 1977-1979 and attended the Presbyterian Church there.

Thank-you for dropping by with your insights. Our congregation also sends people to the Calvin College Worship Symposium. I seriously considered going this year, but work interfered.

DennisS said...

Oops. Forgot to get back here and check comments.

Yes, we've been in Larned for 2 years (first call - second career) and Sterling is fairly close in terms of PCUSA congregations.

The Worship Symposium has so many offerings each year that it's not real likely to run across people - but I'll watch for you. Guess I ought to get a picture for my posts...

BTW - In the years you were at Sterling College, I was attending high school in Pratt, KS.