One of the joys and delights of being a Methodist is that women achieved full equality in the Church some decades ago. The US Methodist Church gave full clergy rights to women in 1956 (although some prior historic Methodist denominations had ordained women in the 19th century) and I believe that the British Methodist Church first ordained women to ministries of word and sacrament in the 1970s (although women had been admitted to the office of Local Preacher long before that).
It's also been my experience in British Methodism that men can often be quite fierce in their defending the equality of men and women before God and in our respective roles in the Kingdom. As a woman raised in a "headship" context, I know that I sometimes feel that I dare not get too worked up about the issue for the emotional toll it will take on me if I focus too much energy on the issue. I therefore appreciate men like my colleague, Dave Warnock who speak out forcefully on the subject of equality.
One of the frustrations of being a Methodist, however, is the often widespread view that the matter of women's equality and ministry has been "settled" long ago and that "no one" believes in headship any more and "no one" believes or acts as if women are inferior.
I invite those who think that this is a minor matter to read the following article: Women of the Kingdom by author and house-church promoter Felicity Dale. (Hat tip to Allan Bevere.)
Far from using language that suggests that these attitudes are in the past, Dale says that "the Holy Spirit is beginning to change sexist attitudes".
Which Methodist or other mainstream Protestant Christian would think that anyone in the 21st century would say something like
- “Of course, we’ll put both your names on the front cover. This book is far too important to have been written by a woman!”
- "God will use a woman—but only when there is no man available to do the job."