It’s upsetting to read that in 2018 the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches is still discussing whether women can serve as lead pastors (“MBs to Gather for Study on Women in Ministry,” Sept. 10). As a woman, it downright hurts. To think that God would not grant people of my gender the spiritual gifts to lead both men and women in a closer walk with Christ is incomprehensible to me. If people want to point to Paul’s words that women should submit to male authority and be quiet in the church, I can point to Paul’s claim in Galatians that “in Christ there is no Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
But I don’t want to play that game. Women have not only been denied the chance to share their leadership gifts throughout church history, but the church has been denied the benefits that we could bring. My childhood years at a “progressive” Mennonite church on a college campus were not much different; I remember the first woman in a ministerial role could — in true churchspeak — be “commissioned but not ordained.”
Last year Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary President Sara Wenger Shenk spoke at my church in Wichita. The obvious gifts she brings to the job spoke profoundly to me; at the same time, I felt grief for all the years that such a person would have been denied the opportunity to use those gifts. Women are tired of being an “issue” to discuss. Accept the leadership we can offer. The church will reap the blessings.
Ann Minter Fetters