Women in ministry: the teaching document is on its way
“We will answer all your questions.” The New Apostolic Church is serious about its promise to ordain women. The fundamental teaching document is on its way. And meetings are starting to be offered at the local level.
A group discussion in Johannesburg, an online question-and-answer session from Hanover, and rectors’ meetings in the Frankfurt area: the Regional Churches have started with training courses and meetings to explain the subject of the ordination of women.
Let’s go back to September 20th, 2022 for a minute and the announcement by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider that, starting in the new year, it will be possible to confer ministerial authority and the ministerial mandate on women. This decision by the apostolate was preceded by a three-year consultation process by the District Apostle Meeting.
The foundations and motivations for this joint resolution are now on their way to the ministers and the congregations.
Part of a comprehensive development
“Conferring ministerial authority and the ministerial mandate on women” is the title of a 32-page special edition of the Divine Service Guide (3/2022). It summarises the content of several documents that the Apostles around the world have been occupying themselves with and on the basis of which the District Apostles have made their decision.
The essay makes it clear that the current problem is only part of a much larger development. Under the leadership of Chief Apostle Richard Fehr, the New Apostolic Church had begun to define and render its doctrine more precisely. The result of these efforts was the Catechism, which was published during the time of Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber.
Under Chief Apostle Schneider then, the remaining questions regarding the understanding of ministry were clarified. While the questions of what and how started to be discussed in 2015, the question of who began to be discussed only in 2019.
Detailed answers from the Bible
The basis for the decision were responses to questions that were consistent with the Bible:
- What does God want?
- What did Jesus Christ say or illustrate and exemplify?
- What can we learn from the Pastoral Letters?
Among other things, the Divine Service Guide states:
- “The New Apostolic Church teaches that both woman and man are created in the image of God and are therefore of the same nature and dignity. The mandate to protect and shape the earthly creation also entails that women and men assume equal responsibility.”
- “Therefore, it is impossible to derive any clear standards for the present from these divergent accounts in the New Testament. Consequently, the apostolate—which is endowed with teaching authority and charged with establishing the order of the Church—has a decision to make.”
The following topics were considered in detail:
- ministerial authority and the ministerial mandate
- Humankind in the image of God
- New Testament statements on the position of women
- The election of the twelve Apostles by Jesus
- Women in the New Apostolic congregation
- Theological assessment
- Doctrinal and practical implications
All will be informed
Although the Divine Service Guide is primarily aimed at the ministers, information for the congregations is being developed. The doctrinal paper will be divided into several parts and will be featured in community, the member magazine of the New Apostolic Church.
We will analyse the background information in our series “Ministry”. Additional training and information events for ministers and the congregations or districts can be offered at the discretion of the Regional Churches.
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