Ministry (39): Ordination of women—the consequences
What is definite is that there is gender equivalence and equality of the sexes before God. That is why, since the beginning of the year, women can also be entrusted with ministerial authority. This has both doctrinal and practical implications.
When it comes to the spiritual ministry in the New Apostolic Church, the Fifth Article of Faith moves into focus: “I believe that those designated by God for a ministry are ordained only by Apostles, and that authority, blessing, and sanctification for their ministration come forth out of the Apostle ministry.”
This raises the question of what does the possibility of ordaining women mean with regard to the various aspects? Two sections of the doctrinal essay “Conferring ministerial authority and the ministerial mandate on women” deal with this question.
The explanations on the Fifth Article of Faith in the Catechism (CNAC 2.4.5) speak generally—without reference to gender—of individuals who are designated by God for a ministry. This election can therefore apply to both women and men.
“It is equally true for both men and women that they can bear a ministry on the basis of divine will and not human decision,” it says in a doctrinal essay in the special edition of the Divine Service Guide 3/2022. “It is God Himself who designates a person for ministry.” Thus ministry is not a human work, nor the work of the congregation, but God’s gift to His church.
In view of this “any sort of quota regulation is automatically out of the question as a selection criterion for a spiritual ministry,” the Divine Service Guide says.
“The task of recognising the designated individual and ordaining him or her into ministry lies with the Apostle ministry,” it says further.
Although the basic prerequisite for ordaining women or men is divine calling, the needs and requirements of the congregation, district, or Regional Church are also always taken into account in the case of a planned ordination.
The spiritual competencies required for the services associated with the respective ministry are also taken into account. Both women and men alike bring their talents, specific abilities, and positive characteristics to the exercise of their ministries, and engage these for the benefit of the congregation. Through the ordination “available talents are awakened and consecrated for the exercise of the ministry” (CNAC 7.7).
Authority, blessing, and sanctification
The spiritual ministry for which God has designated individuals receives its character through authority. The Catechism mentions three levels of ministry—Apostle, Priest, and Deacon—each of which is associated with a different degree of authority to proclaim the word and dispense the sacraments. “Like men, women can be ordained into all of these levels of ministry with all their inherent powers,” the Divine Service Guide makes clear.
“Blessing and sanctification are necessary for both women and men to properly exercise the ministry and the service conferred upon them.” In section 2.4.5 the Catechism notes that through the blessing the ministries are assured of the divine support and help of the Holy Spirit. And: “Sanctification points to the fact that it is God Himself, in His holiness and inviolability, who seeks to act through the ministry.”
Through their ordination, men and women receive both ministerial authority and a specific ministerial mandate to be active within a congregation, district, or Regional Church. Beyond that, they can also be appointed and assigned to leadership functions in the congregation, district, and the Regional Church.
Ordination into a ministry always occurs with the needs of the congregation and the requirements of the Church in mind. When women are ordained to the ministry, the matter of social acceptance must also be taken into account.
Individuals who are called to ministry promise to teach in accordance with the testimony of Holy Scripture as it comes to expression in the Ten Articles of Faith and in the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church. They exercise their ministry in conformance with the Guide for Ministers.
Photo: Klaus Eppele - stock.adobe.com