The desire to talk about this issue was motivated by several things. For one, Melissa has served in a paid staff position (part-time) in women’s ministry for about a decade. And so, part of the discussion was her reflections on serving on a church staff and how that has shaped her thinking on this issue.
The second reason for discussing this topic is because of what is happening here at the Charlotte campus. I have been so excited to see more and more female students coming to RTS to pursue theological education. There is a vibrant community of women on campus led by our Community Life Coordinator, Mallie Taylor.
And these women are some of our best and brightest students. Every semester we give awards for the best student papers, and this past semester two out of the three winners were female students.
But, in the midst of this positive development, I know many of these women are wondering what comes next after graduation. There are a limited number of paid ministry opportunities for our female grads and this can raise questions about whether seminary for women is worth the time and cost.
And third, the topic of hiring women on church staffs was raised last year at the PCA General Assembly. The report of the ad-interim committee on women serving in the ministry of the church included this recommendation:
The committee encourages sessions in churches that have unordained staff positions to consider hiring qualified women, possibly even before qualified men. The church staff will of necessity have primarily ordained men, and women will never be ordained. Thus, the committee encourages preferring women for non-ordained staff positions.
Part of the committee’s rationale for this recommendation was because women “are increasingly turning to para-church ministries” instead of the church. While para-church ministries have their place, the church needs these women and thus the committee was looking for ways to address this issue. [Read more…]