While many churches, and even the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada as a whole, have taken steps to include women in all levels of church leadership, Palmerston EMC has maintained a tradition of male-only leadership in the Deacon role. A little over a year ago, Palmerston EMC began having a conversation about the place of women in leadership of the church, specifically in the role of Deacon by asking for the church’s opinion on the matter. The response to that question was limited, with only about 20 responses coming in, but decidedly one sided, with the vast majority of those who responded stating that it is about time that PEMC allowed women to serve in the role of Deacon.
Over the past year, church leadership has been continuing this discussion and we believe it is time to move that discussion to a close. Toward that end, the church leadership would like to invite everyone to a round-table discussion to be held after church on November 1st. This will be the kick-off to our “Souper Sunday” events for the fall and winter months, and our round-table discussion will be held afterward.
The intent of this event is for people to come and share their thoughts and opinions openly about women holding the position of Deacon in our church. It is important to me and the church leadership that people be given the opportunity to share their opinions openly about this topic. While we will not be holding a vote regarding this topic on November 1st, we are interested in learning the feelings of as many people as we can through this discussion.
To help in preparation for that event, we have asked our denominational leadership to provide us with some resources that might speak to this topic. While there are no specific position papers available, our president Phil Delsaut, did write a series of papers on headship that speak to the role of women in leadership in a Christian community. These papers are available in print on the literature table in the church foyer or by clicking on the links below.
President Delsaut Headship #1
President Delsaut Headship #2
President Delsaut Headship #3
President Delsaut Headship #4
President Delsaut Headship #5
President Delsaut Headship #6
President Delsaut Headship #7
You will note that there was to be a final paper after #7, but it was not to be found when I made this request to head office.
The other thing to do to prepare for this round-table discussion is to take a look at the pertinent scriptures associated with this discussion. Of course, there are the passages from 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.
I would encourage you to read these passages in their full context. Read all of 1 Timothy and Titus. Read 1 Corinthians 11-14 to grasp the context of Paul’s statements.
I would also encourage you to read those passages in light of passages like:
Genesis 3 – where male headship is a curse as a result of sin
1 Peter 5:13
One thing that I desperately want to avoid with this conversation is the polarizing effect it might have. Some of us have very strong feelings one way or the other about this topic, either because of a tradition we have grown up with or because we have come to believe that the scriptures say one thing or the other.
The truth is, either side of this discussion can be strongly argued with the use of scripture, either accurately or by bending scripture to fit our opinions.
One other thing to consider when preparing for this discussion is these scriptures about how the Holy Spirit determines giftedness for ministry and leadership: Hebrews 2:4 & 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.
Thank you for considering this discussion and for your participation in the discussion November 1st.