I believe the Scriptural evidence for equality is clear. However, arguments based on evidence can only take us so far.
So I am now suggesting an alternative (or compliment). I want to offer those who believe equality in the Church is wrong a chance to see it in action, to experience it, to talk to real people and to see for themselves how God is blessing the Methodist Church through the ministry of women in positions of leadership in local Churches as well as in the wider Methodist Connexion.
I have shared some experiences in the past, but now I am suggesting more. Get past the filter. Come and talk directly to the women in leadership and to the women and men who have women as their leaders in authority.
This is what I wrote to Phil:
Ok we are getting somewhere. It seems we can agree that Male Headship denies equality (honesty about that is a big issue). Where we disagree is whether God requires this inequality or not.
There has been an article doing the rounds on twitter etc about the futility of argument to change peoples minds.
In the light of that I would like to invite you to come and visit us in Syston.
I would like to introduce you to some fantastic women in positions of authority in the Church and show you the fruits that God is blessing us with through them.
I would love you to meet Margaret who has just retired from Senior Church Steward (nearest equiv to an elder). She and two other women are currently on a year long Mission Shaped Ministry Course and leading our Circuit in setting up Fresh Expressions of Church.
I would love you to meet Ann who is currently one of the Senior Stewards, also on the Mission Shaped Ministry Course.
I would like you to meet my Superintendent Minister and people from the Churches that she ministers to so that you can hear of the huge change around that God has worked in this Circuit through her ministry.
I would like you to meet Jane Leach the new Principal of Wesley House, Cambridge.
I would like you to meet the current President of the Methodist Church, Alison Tomlin and the Vice President Eunice Attwood.
I would like to be able to spend a couple of weeks with you travelling round and meeting Women in Leadership in the Methodist Church. It would be a packed two weeks and in that time you wouldn't be able to meet more than a small fraction of the women that God has called and equipped for leadership in just the Methodist Church. But you would get a glimpse of the way that God is blessing us through these women, you would be able to see the fruits of the Spirit in their ministries. You would be able to meet people who have come to faith, people whose faith has grown, people whose lives have been transformed.
I submit to you that
a) We believe Scripture supports equality on gender as well as on ethnicity etc
b) Where we as a Church have embraced equality God has blessed us. In many places Methodism is being renewed and growing. Those of us within this Church can see that these are related, it is no coincidence.
Are you up for the challenge?
Please note that I have not cleared this with any of the women who are in leadership and I would not ask any of them to take part in anything that would be in anyway an attack on them or their ministry. However, we have so many fantastic examples of God blessing us through the leadership ministry of women that I am sure some can be found who are willing to take part.
I do believe we have nothing to hide. Equality is not embarrassing, we can delight in the way God blesses us when we embrace equality. This is one of those win win situations for us. We get to do what feels right (treat people equally), we get to be true to our understanding of Scripture, we get great extra people in leadership and as the icing on the cake so to speak God is showering blessings on us as we do this.
Who dares to come and see God at work