Uniquely Deep

Women in Ministry by: Debra White Smith

When asked why he encouraged women preachers, John Wesley responded, “Because God owns them in the conversion of sinners, and who am I that I should withstand God” (Zechariah Taft. Peterborough: Methodist Publishing House, 1992). The question of ordaining women as pastors, evangelists, and deacons is more a question of biblical scholarship methods than of whether women are ordained. Churches in the John Wesley tradition approach the Word of God with a balanced view that considers all scriptures on all topics. No matter the subject, we don’t isolate one or two key scriptures to prove a limited stance that is created by ignoring any verse(s) that refutes that stance. Scholars call this method of scholarship “proof texting,” and it is an erroneous method of biblical interpretation that creates unbalanced theology and concepts. (Slave owners used the same method of scholarship to prove owning and abusing slaves was God-approved and biblical since the New Testament tells slaves to submit to their masters.) Therefore, when the topic of the ordination of women is approached, we consult all verses that deal with women in ministry and then come to the most logical and balanced conclusions based upon the full body of information found in the Bible—not just one or two verses. Due to this balanced approach to scripture, many Wesleyan-tradition churches have ordained women since their inception. For instance, the Church of the Nazarene has been ordaining women for over 100 years. The first group of Nazarene pastors and evangelists who were ordained in 1908 was one-third women.

Paul made a few direct statements against women participating in church life, but he also affirmed women who prophesied and women in church leadership. “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Tim. 2:11-12). “As in all congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. When they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church” (1 Cor. 14:33b-35). However, Paul also supported women who weren’t silent in the church and who were prophets (preachers) and teachers. In 1 Cor. 11:5, Paul references women praying and prophesying (preaching) in church. This scripture occurs three chapters before he tells women to be silent. Also, in Romans 16, Paul affirms many women in ministry, including Phoebe, a deacon (v. 1) and Junias (v. 7), a female apostle—the highest office of the First Century church. Given the wide body of biblical evidence in favor of women in ministry, the historic stance of Wesleyan-tradition churches is that either Paul contradicted himself and much of the Bible when he told women not to teach/preach and to be silent, or there was a specific problem in each of these cases that he was dealing with concerning women who were inappropriately out of hand. There are differing theories on the problems Paul was addressing. However, many Wesleyan-tradition scholars believe that Paul was dealing with women who were either disrupting the service in 1 Corinthians and/or being domineering in 1 Timothy and that he was not refuting his other statements or other Scriptures that support women in ministry. For a look at passages that do support women as preachers/prophetesses and/or spiritual leaders see: Exodus 15-20; Judges 4; 2 Kings 22:14; Micah 6:4; Joel 2:28-29; Luke 2:26-38; Acts 2:16-21; Acts 18; Acts 21:9.

No denomination that I am aware of fully applies a literal interpretation of what Paul said about women remaining fully silent in church. In denominations around the world, women are not silent. They may be teaching and/or preaching, singing in the choir, serving on boards,
playing instruments, testifying, laughing, talking, and participating in church life. By and large, denominations do not apply a strict, literal interpretation of Paul’s telling women to be silent because the church world would suffer greatly and perhaps fail if all women went silent. Likewise, the spreading of the Gospel is significantly hindered when women are told they are not to publicly proclaim the Good News. Furthermore, the most balanced biblical scholarship method on any subject is solidified when we start with the teachings of Jesus Christ and don’t interpret any scripture in a way that violates what Jesus said. Jesus Christ was the sinless son of God, and His words must be the underlying force and influencer in all biblical interpretation. Whatever Paul wrote must be interpreted in the context of his own teachings as well as in the context of Jesus Christ’s teachings. Any concept on any subject that is created by ignoring the teachings of Christ can be out of balance. Using scripture as a tool to subordinate or limit anyone due to age, race, economic status or whether they are male or female is a direct violation of what Jesus said and most of what Paul himself said. According to Paul, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Jesus Christ stated, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). This Golden Rule applies to everything, including how we view and treat both men and women.
Furthermore, the Bible could also be used to limit men and prohibit them from ministry. Jesus Christ repeatedly told his male disciples to not even call themselves leaders and not to think of themselves in authority over others. “Also, a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered the greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves…But I am among you as the one who serves’” (Luke 2:24-27b, NIV). “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers…And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:8, 10-12, NASB). Note: The King James Version states, “Do not be called masters” (v.10); the New International Version states, “Do not be called teachers” (v.10). Using the proof texting method of biblical scholarship, these and numerous other sections of the Bible could easily be used to subordinate men and stop them from holding any ministry position as teachers or pastors or assuming any role as leaders. However, churches do not use scripture to limit men in the church or ministry, nor should they.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Galatians 3:28

When scholars proof text Paul’s statements about women as support for not ordaining women, but ignore Christ’s similar messages to men, such biblical interpretation lacks credence because it lacks consistent application. Churches in the Wesleyan tradition are committed to consistent application of balanced, biblical scholarship methods. Those methods include a thoughtful examination of everything the Bible says on a subject, including the ordination of women.


Below is a list of some of the denominations who ordain women as pastors and affirm women in ministry:
• Church of the Nazarene
• Mainstream Baptists
• Alliance of Baptists
• American Baptist Churches USA
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• Church of God, Anderson
• Brethren in Christ
• The Wesleyan Church
• Presbyterian Church (USA)
• Mennonite Church USA
• Episcopal Church in the USA
• Vineyard Movement
• Evangelical Catholic Church
• Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
• Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ
• African Methodist Episcopal Church
• African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
• Salvation Army
• The Free Methodist Church North America
• Evangelical Covenant Church of America
• International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
• International Pentecostal Holiness Church
• Christian Reformed Church in North America
• Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)
• United Church of Christ
• United Methodist Church
• Wesleyan Reform Union

Southern Baptist Church: Lottie Moon was an applauded, highly educated Southern Baptist missionary who spent her life preaching the Word of God in China during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Even though the Southern Baptist church currently does not recognize women as pastors or missionaries, they still applaud Lottie Moon’s groundbreaking work as a missionary and take up an annual Christmas offering for missions in her memory. “In 1964 Addie Davis became the first Southern Baptist woman ordained to the ministry. By the 1970’s hundreds of women were enrolled in ministerial degree programs at Southern Baptist Church seminaries. By the early 1990’s more than 1,000 women had been ordained; more than 50 ordained SBC women served as pastors in Southern Baptist churches; and others served as professors at Southern Baptist universities and seminaries. In 2000 the Southern Baptist Church stopped recognizing the ordination of women.” However, all Southern Baptists do not agree with this decision (Prescott & McClatchy. Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, 1999-2003.)

For more detailed information about balanced, biblical interpretation and women in ministry, please consult the following books, and websites:
• The Tie that Binds: A Marriage Revolution of Love by Debra White Smith, specifically the chapters, “Ruling and Drooling” and “Leading and Following.”
• Reclaiming Eve by Suzanne Burden, Carla Sunberg, and Jamie Wright.
• 25 Tough Questions about Women and the Church by J. Lee Grady.
• Christians for Biblical Equality: www.cbeinternational.org
• Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy: www.whwomenclergy.org
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• Timeline of Women in Methodism: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/timeline-of-women-in-methodism

–Debra White Smith c2008
http://www.debrawhitesmith.com
*This article is free for unlimited copying and distribution. Please do not make any changes in the article without first gaining permission from Debra White Smith.

Uniquely Inspirational

The Struggles with Expectations

As I got ready for bed Todd turned to me and said, “You know it is going to snow tomorrow?”

“Hush, you don’t say that word around here… nope.” As I refused to accept it. After all, it is October, and I have no expectations of seeing such things falling from the sky at this time. I certainly don’t want to think about it.

The next day I wake up, cold. I get my coffee and start listening to the live stream training from NTS, during this time it happened. Out of the corner of my eye, through the window, there it is. Falling softly to the ground. “It’s snowing,” Todd says with the “I told you so” in his voice. “Yeah, I know” I responded grumpily.

“80 degrees in Houston and 31 in Amarillo. Snow has been falling throughout the day up there and the current wind chill factor is about 17 degrees.” – DrJimFox26

My expectations, and clearly, the forecast expectations are two different things. Although I can expect things to go my way, well, it is not always going to happen. Obviously, I don’t have the knowledge of a weatherman or the means to have my own Doppler radar system. I have to rely on others to give me the information. Then, what I do with that information is up to me. I can allow it to change my expectations, and plans, or I can just ignore it hoping for the best. I’m not like God, able to know what and when things will happen.

There are a lot of thinks I expect. As a mother, I expect my family to keep the house clean. As a pastor, I expect everyone to be at church and participate. As a wife, I expect to be spoiled daily. I’m sure Todd’s working on it. There is only one problem, a HUGE problem. All those expectations are coming from ONE person, ME. Well, if the world was full of “me’s,” all those expectations would be shared. But sadly, it isn’t so, because my expectations are uniquely MINE. Others have different expectations. Their expectations will rarely line up with mine, because of four major realities:

1. People have their own different personalities.

2. People have their own different experiences.

3. People have their own goals or desires in mind.

4. People have different needs. Our spiritual, physical and mental needs are our own. We share the needs, but we have differing means of fulfilling them.

So what to do? If everyone has different expectations, then how can we be united as one? How can my family work together towards each individual’s expectations? How can my church work together as one body, with all these expectations that differentiate us? How can my husband and I grow closer if we have different expectations of each other?

TWO words: COMMUNICATION and ACCEPTANCE.

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Through communication we can share those expectations with each other. Some may not be as simple as the weatherman telling us it is going to snow the next day. Some need to see some physical explanation like the Doppler radar system. But communicating what our expectations are with each other is a perfect start. It requires honesty and throws out assumptions. Some expectations I have, I can change with the correct information. I can change my expectations of activities that involve others by simply listening to their expectations. Honesty is vital for me to know their expectations. For example: If I know that my family can’t help keep the house clean because of work, studies or illness, I can change my expectation of them helping to clean the house. On the other hand, I have to communicate to them what I expect from them as well. Communication has to go both ways. Sharing our expectations with each other allows us to build a closer relationship with others. No matter how feeble, weird, complicated, simple or even selfish the expectation may be. In order to maintain, create, or strengthen a relation with those around us, honest communication is essential.

Let’s not forget the second word of ACCEPTANCE. Here is where communication can get stuck in the gutter. There is a need for humbleness in order to ACCEPT what others have communicated to us. Whether we like it, agree with it or not, accepting the communicated expectations is key to every relationship. We don’t have to like it to accept it. I didn’t like the news of the snow, truthfully I knew the information, but I just didn’t WANT to accept it because deep inside, well I was hoping it just would not…you know…snow. The acceptance of the information has a lot to do with our humbleness vs. our stubbornness. It is a tug-of-war when we just really don’t want the communicated words to be true. In refusing to accept it, we already have decided that your expectation and mine are just not going to work out. We break the line of communication which in turns breaks the relationship.

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I want to make it clear, it is not the different expectations that break a relationship, it is the refusal to accept the different expectations that does. We can still work together when different expectations are stated. This is how we incorporate the differences into it the relationship that allows us to go on. One thing I know is that everyone will have different expectations. Each of my daughters has a different expectation from me, yet we work together because we accept each other’s differences and help each other reach our expectations. The refusal to accept the communicated information that may change our expectations is what causes the clash between people just as much as no communication. We just need humbleness (acceptance), the honesty (communication).

Our unique expectations of each other, life itself, and our surroundings, must be ready to be changed. Our everyday life has to be a life of flexible expectations especially when is out of our control. We can’t just expect everyone to know if we haven’t communicated fully. Nor can we expect them to share their own expectations if we have already refused to accept them in the past. We must come together and practice honesty and humbleness in our relationships through the sharing of expectations. This is not a unique way of thinking. It is a necessary attitude to have so that we don’t became enslaved to our own expectations and lose relationships. We may not agree with each other’s expectations but we can work together because often some of those expectations are similar to our own. Those similarities may enrich our relationship and strengthen it. Then, we have to realize that some will be different, we may not agree, but we understand each other and work together. This knowledge also strengthens our relationship. How? Because our common expectations should bring growth and strengthen our relationship as we unite in purpose. This is the Godly EXPECTATION that Jesus himself prayed for in John 17 for us, “That they may be one as you and I are one.”

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “

John 17: 22

And so, as I sit here knowing that I’ve lost the battle against my climate preference, I can change my expectation to: “Todd? You know, it is a perfect day to try out the fireplace.”

My expectations and the forecast expectations are two different things.

Instead, Todd turns on some Christmas music. I guess his expectations when snows falls, means Christmas is coming.

“Really?” I tell him as soon as I hear it. “This is what you think of when there is snow?”

He laughs.

I do need to give him a break. He misses the snow, being from Indiana and all. Now if only I can give him enough information about my need of the fireplace. Will I have that unique expectation come to life? We’ll see.. in the meantime he is still expecting me to cook dinner…{wait, I’m smelling food cooking}… well, maybe not anymore. 😉

Uniquely Mi Vida

A Struggle with Work

Well, here I am sitting in my office on this huge old desk which Todd and I can share, trying to follow up on my to do list. You know that never ending list that if you don’t have it, you get lost in overwhelming “to dos”? yeah, that list. Okay, I confess, I’m moving backwards on my “to-do-list”.

After mailings, reviewing the budget, checking my emails and following up on calls and prayer time, I decided to check on my blog. I realize, “hey I missed lasts week’s blog”. Didn’t I have it in my “to-do-list”? AND didn’t I remind myself, at least twice, to get it done? So what happened?

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Turns out that things just happen at work that distracts you and veers you away from your “to-do-list” or plans that you have for the day. For me it was these lists of over 150 members that I have been trying to organize, locate and find. Doing so will in turn allow me to create ANOTHER concise list… yeah, before you get confused. My second list is an updated list of contacts and follow ups for outreach. In order to be able to have that I had to “clean” out all the lists that I have found… and then find people. Turns out it takes a long time to do.. a LONG TIME.. like more than 3 weeks..

If you see my “to-do-List” you will find that item repeated over, over and over again, cause is a long…long…long process. I even had to split the task into 3 Lists. Then into more specifics or detail ones: In town, passed away, Transfers, Not found, No IDEA… I have learned that my habit of “If you do it, do it right the first time”, can be, as my husband says, an obsession. Or it could be that ADHD part of me. Regardless this task and it’s process, hard or not, has to be done.

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Work has a way of grabbing much more than your attention, it grabs your time, your thoughts, and even your tranquility. It gets into a point that items on your “to do list” can drag you down and be time consuming. The worst thing is that it can cause a great deal of frustration, just like people can, you know? WHen they complain? Or you have a long line in front because such and such machine broke down? Yeah, like that!

I realized that certain people can handle those difficult situations better than most. Others are great with people regardless of the situation, others are patient with the computer more than most and yet others can handle “items” more than others. It all has to do with our personality and skills yet frustrating times come. So what do you do to keep from yelling at someone, picking up the computer and throwing it across the room or just (in my case) grabbing all the papers and feeding it to the shredder, where i really felt they belong. We walk away and take a breath.

Several things I like to do when work is getting overwhelming, frustrating or when there seems to be no end in sight.

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  • Turn on or “up”, the music. For me is worship music. Depending on the need for escape or relaxation, I will listen to different styles or languages (English or Spanish). It really relaxes and I find I can work with a more relax and peaceful mind when I do.
  • Take 5, take your break, even if is just five minutes. Breath a little, talk to the one who works next to you. Share a little of your life, the funny thing that happen, say the day before. You can share your frustrations or difficulties of what you are dealing with. Sharing with others is helpful cause they may have advice that will help.
  • Take a knee, not like the football players take it, but a real down to earth knee to the ground and heart lifted up. Pray to the Lord that He may help you. Ask for comfort, peace, patience and more. You know your frustrations, well so does God. Only God can help you through the day. Sometimes a little short prayer is enough. It keeps your heart in-tacked.
  • Pass it on, not ALL, just some. Divide your task or the situation with another worker and pass on some of the load. I gave Todd the 1st finished list and had him do the contacting letters and some phone calls. If it was a person, I would have asked Todd to talk to him/her. If it was a situation, I would have asked Todd to help me… and so on. I even went around the people here at the church to help me find the “Unknowns”. Big HELP. One thing I have learned is that others can help you, JUST ASK. It does wonders to your sanity.

I found that this week is a lot easier, not only because I finished the lists, for the most part, but because I did the above things. It makes this week easier as I continue to contact those who I have found in the area. I have had great conversations too. I even have had the honor to place them in my prayer request list. (Which is yet another list..) Since the hard work is done and all those crazy lists are more organized, “yay” for me, I can work more calmly.

So as I sit here listening to worship music, in English, I can only relax, enjoy and smile. The fact that hard work may take a LOT of my time, patience and mind is nothing because, for me, meeting people is such a unique blessing. I hope and pray that I get to see face to face some of those names that I have on my list. I guess one has to find the joy in all they do. 🙂 Cause every job is unique, full of unique situations and unique people. But most of all, a UNIQUE YOU!