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A first for St. Paul's....

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

As the first female senior pastor at St. Paul's, it is important for me to offer relevant information about the ordination of women in light of scripture and our Methodist tradition. My hope is that this letter will bring further enlightenment to this important dialogue!

Content courtesy of Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications. Clergywomen have been part of Methodism since John Wesley licensed Sarah Crosby to preach in 1761. Although women were ordained in the Methodist tradition as early as the late 1800s, it was the May 4, 1956 General Conference vote for full clergy rights that forever changed the face of ordained clergy.

The United Methodist Church continues to declare its belief in the full equality of women and the importance of women in decision-making and leadership positions at all levels of the church.

In her Commentary, Women in Ministry, Rev. Joy 3. Moore offers helpful insights related to the seemingly prohibitory scriptures against the leadership of women in the church:

"In all of Christian scripture, the only text that explicitly sets the limit on all women to be silent is 1 Timothy 2:11. The verse, if taken literally, actually contradicts the chapter, which is addressing public prayer. Men are instructed to pray without anger and doubt, and wormen are similarly instructed to be decent and modest in appearance. While the instructions for public prayer to men refer to attitude, the directive to women specifies outward appearances (which reflects inner attitudes). I am inclined to consider this single limiting instruction in the context of the many directives throughout scripture encouraging believers to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
In the context of first century Judaism, a directive to let women learn was not only countercultural, but a revolutionary notion that would effectively double the number of witnesses of Jesus Christ to all the world. Whereas previously tradition forbade women from even being taught the scriptures, this text grants wom en the opportunity to learn in the same manner as men who previously had little knowledge of a subject. Some teachers then, such as Pythagoras (for those who know Greek teachers), even required long periods of silence probably as a form of moral discipline. The Greek word translated as silence used in 1 Timothy is otherwise used to mean respectful attention or quiet demeanor rather than imposing total silence. The same word is used in verse 2 of this same chapter to exhort the whole church to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. Most people consider the texts in Corinthians directing married women to wear head coverings as a specific cultural instruction. Similarly, the directive that married women cannot speak publicly at all seems excessive as an instruction for all times and all Christian assemblies. Silence in this portion of Scripture is related to ordering worship, not restricting half of the body of Christ to total public silence"

I hope this content will initiate fruitful conversations about the calling of all believers to share the good news of the gospel, regardless of gender.

I am continually blessed and grateful to serve as your sensor pastor and look forward to

the continued work of ministry alongside each one of you.

Peace, Rev. Mary Ward

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