After 7 years of study, discussion and lots of prayer . . . RiverTree now bases all leadership roles on character, giftedness and calling. We no longer restrict leaders based on their gender.
Sounds simple now, but it has been a long road of gut-wrenching, soul-searching, God-seeking deliberation.
I grew up in a church where women could sing special music or play the piano but not lead the singing. Women could count the offering on Monday but not collect the offering on Sunday. Women could teach boys but only until they reached the sixth grade.
I am thankful for the journey that God has brought us on. The journey to the point where there is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, because we are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
It’s still a bit of a shock to me, every time I review the history of women’s rights, here in the US. How recent it all is.
1920 – Women granted right to vote.
1963 – Equal Pay Act passed, making it illegal to pay a women less than a man for the same job.
1972 – Title IX of the Education Amendment bans sex discrimination on schools.
1870 – 15th Amendment ratified, Black men can vote.
I was in high-school during the 1980’s, only a mere 8 years after title IX. I couldn’t imagine not being allowed to play baseball, and softball, and volleyball on a team, instead of just intramural.
I remember being one of very few girls playing little league as a child, thinking how odd it was that there weren’t more.
My great grandmother was born in 1900. When she turned 18 she was not allowed to vote.
Anytime I think of discrimination and laws being changed in US history, I picture people still riding horses, and funny old museum clothes, black and white movies. Why do I always picture it that way? Very strange.
I had no idea that there were still struggles, even at Rivertree, with the roles of women going on today.
Thanks so much for the lesson, Greg.
Yes, it sounds simple, but in many other churches is seen as a big no no.
Given the Galatians 3:28 verse I always thought it odd that women’s roles were restricted in some churches.
My hat is off to Rivertree. :-)
Hi, Greg. It’s a positive thing to take a definitive, Scripture-based stand on a controversial issue like women in ministry.
While I personally struggle with this one based on my “Big C” Catholic upbringing and what I understand from the Old(er) Testament, I recognize that my unease may be based in error. I know and understand that you and the elders are very familiar with both sides of the argument, and that you have prayerfully considered the Biblical text and context surrounding this issue. I also respect the outcome of the constitutional vote this past Saturday.
It is past time for debate, and time to move forward.
Now that the decision has been made, it’s maybe not a big deal that needs to take up a bunch more of our time. Just as a suggestion, though (not intended as a snipe), it might be worth driving a stake in the ground with a more public announcement. It felt a little weird to me to read about this change on a blog, but not see it on the main website or hear about it during the service.
Again, not for the purpose of riling up a debate, but to say unequivocally, “this is where we stand as a body of believers.”
Isn’t the context of Galatians 3:28 talking about salvation in Christ, not about church structure? If so, how can it be used as an argument for the case of women as elders?
Yes, Paul is speaking specifically to the issue of salvation in the Galatians passage.
However, the life of following Jesus does not stop with salvation. I believe Paul is also describing what the Kingdom of God is intended to be.
It is only in our lives (after salvation) that we are able to live in a community where there are neither Jews nor Greeks, slave nor free, male nor female.
1 Tim 2: 12 is clear. Women are not to teach or have authority over men. The reason is theological and not cultural. The leadership of Adam was usurped by Eve’s sin.
I grew up in the GARBC until I as about 10. Then we went to a very conservative non-denom church (that was 175 years old, if that tells you anything). So, I too grew up in churches that taught that women had no business in leadership positions except Sunday School teachers, and they had to be the same sex as their students…
…I never understood why, though. I could never find that in the Bible anywhere, and when I’d ask I always got the Ephesians “the man is the head” speech and “let women be silent in church”. But I never bought it because even when I was a kid that seemed contrary to everything else in the Bible:
The standard argument against women just doesn’t make sense. It just seems to paint God into a contradiction: Throughout the Bible He has women doing all kinds of really cool stuff, but then all of a sudden, in a couple of verses here and there He then decides “sit down, shut up, and do as you’re told”? Women were Judges, queens, prophetesses, they had Bible books named after them, even in the NT they were deacons and teachers, mission financiers…and my first line of defense in a topic like this has always been “The first person to preach the Gospel was a woman…when she ran from the tomb to tell the others”. To me, the evidence of God seeing “neither male nor female” and using them both equally, depending on whoever was ready, willing, and able, was more evident than what was being asserted in the argument against women…whatever it was.
LivingDedGrrl, that was very well put. :-)