This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Discerning what is of God

The leadership of Conservative Mennonite Conference recently demonstrated boldness and humility in upholding their interpretation of Scripture while rejecting extrabiblical traditions that limit women’s roles and status.

Whatever one believes about women in pastoral ministry, all Christians ought to agree that our convictions should come from Scripture, not from cultural or religious traditions that limit women’s freedom to exercise all of their God-given abilities.

During the denomination’s annual conference July 27-30 in Kid­ron, Ohio, the Executive Board members stood to affirm a statement read aloud by conference moderator and board chair Joe Byler on women’s roles in the church.

“We commit to shed mere cultural and traditional practices that have determined ‘a woman’s place’ and replace them with genuine biblical practices,” the statement read.

This was followed by a gracious and equally humble response from the women who were part of a panel discussion on women’s roles.

“We acknowledge that some of the ways you may have limited our ministries have nevertheless grown out of your sincere desire to follow God and honor his Word,” the women’s statement read. “We commit ourselves to study with you God-honoring ways to minister in each context where God calls us.”

Nothing in CMC’s statements of theology or practice has changed. The denomination is still committed to a complementarian understanding of women’s roles in the church based on its interpretation of Scripture.

MWR supports the full inclusion of women at all levels of pastoral ministry while also respecting the convictions of complementarians — those who believe women and men equally bear the image of God but have differing avenues of service in the church. Most Mennonite groups in North America teach complementarianism in some form.

Human traditions and cultural influences are strong and often become intertwined with religious beliefs, making it hard to separate what comes from God and what comes from our own desires and assumptions. Discerning the difference is an ongoing challenge for Anabaptists. CMC is setting a good example by committing to do this.

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