Female theologians discuss women’s place in ministry
By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University’s third Ministry Forum topic, “Does God Call Women into Ministry?”, might seem like a rhetorical question considering the College of Theology panelists:
- Dr. Valerie De La Torre, doctor of ministry, instructor
- Margaret Koontz, master of divinity, instructor
- Michele Pasley, master of arts in theology, instructor
- Adrian Strong, master of divinity, adjunct faculty member
Add in the moderator of the Monday session, Anna Faith Smith, master of divinity and COT associate dean, and there appears to be a clear argument for a “yes” answer.
But the classroom audience was split four ways on the poll question, “Into what role does God call women to serve?” The choices were: To any office of the church or ministry, to missionary service, to a support role if the pastor or leader is male and to a ministry to women and/or children.
“Interesting,” Smith said. “We have a spectrum. … We welcome people who are serving God no matter where they are on the spectrum.”
For an hour, the panelists discussed the role of women based on five topic questions Smith posed.
The first was, “God has used women in ministry and leadership from Old Testament times to the present, notably Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Priscilla, Lydia, Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Paul’s coworker Phoebe (Romans 14) and the women who labored alongside him in Phillippi, and countless missionaries over time.”
Even in the Old Testament, women had positions of leadership, said De La Torre. She said that women and men started out as complementary, but the roles became distorted until Jesus restored the order.
The women, Koontz said, “serve as positive role models. … I too grew up in a church in which the women did what was needed, when it was needed. There was a sense of obedience. ‘The harvest is plenty but the workers are few.’’’
“I see God calling women to do what needed to be done … fulfilling what God has called them to do,” Pasley said.
“When I did learn about these women, I knew God was calling me to learn, that God was calling me to teach,” Strong said.
Another topic was, “Based on I Corinthians 14, women should be silent in the church?”
Strong’s response to this was, “Absolutely not. We all have gifts.”
“Does that mean women shouldn’t sing? That women shouldn’t stand up to make announcements?” Koontz said.
The panelists also discussed interpreting scripture using contexts and definitions that can change with time. Koontz, for example, said we should avoid our desire to “rip a verse bleeding from its contexts.”
After the hour was up, Faith posed the same poll questions to the student audience. The result? Nearly the same.
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.