Gender and Leadership at MVC
Over the past eleven years at Monte Vista Chapel, the topic of gender and leadership has surfaced as a matter of prayer, study, and consideration among the Elders. In 2008, they reflected on the history of MVC and noted that opportunities for women to exercise leadership gifts had greatly increased since MVC’s founding. At that time the Elders did not take up a discussion to amend the bylaws which state that the roles of Elder, Deacon, and Senior pastor are open to men only.
Three years ago, the Elders engaged the gender and leadership conversation again, this time to deepen their understanding of Scriptural teachings about these issues. Their study found certain passages seem to encourage women to lead in all areas, while others seem to restrict such leadership; and that committed followers of Christ disagree on how to interpret and apply those passages. Through their study, the Elders also came to understand these passages, when taken in their specific context and in the context of scripture as a whole, open all areas of leadership to both men and women who are gifted and called to serve. Therefore, at the June 11 Elder meeting, a motion was made and unanimously approved to initiate a process to amend MVC’s bylaws so that all areas of leadership are opened to qualified men and women. After the motion passed, a team of men and women worked to develop a timeline that will lead to a Congregational vote on the proposed bylaw change on November 17, 2019. That timeline is found at the end of this letter.
The Elders make this recommendation with humble confidence that, through prayer, study, and the Spirit’s work in them and in the congregation, God has graciously brought clarity for the direction of MVC on this matter. We, as Elders, staff and many other members of our congregation also believe MVC will be better able to reflect the Kingdom of God as all people are free to lead in ways in which God has gifted them. At the same time, we have profound awareness and respect for people who hold different perspectives. That is a good thing! Monte Vista Chapel is a stronger church because of our differences. We also know, as children of God, what unites us is far more powerful than our differences. With that in mind let us, as a community of Christ-followers, continue to engage this process with honesty, grace, humility, and prayer, seeking to understand one another’s perspectives as a way of loving well. Those are the keys to this process: honesty and grace with yourself and others, humility before God and others, prayer to remain connected to God, and the desire to love that keeps us connected to one another. Fortunately, with Christ in us and among us, we have all the resources we need to do just that! If we continually return to him, he will do immeasurably more than we could have ever asked or imagined in the months to come.
Finally, we all know change affects people in different ways. If you find yourself needing to process anything, from biblical and theological issues to personal and emotional struggles that have surfaced because of this topic, please know that there are people at MVC who are gifted and willing to engage with you. A good place to begin is to contact one of the Elders or pastoral staff. If you are not sure who to speak with, contact Nancy Rapp and she will help direct you to the right person.
June 11, 2019
Elders recommend bylaws be amended to allow both men and women to serve in all areas of leadership at MVC
June 23, 2019
Sermon: Jesus is Wise Rather Than Reactive. A message illustrating how Jesus had and held difficult conversations and our hope for doing the same.
Town Hall explaining the process, and providing a timeline, to change the bylaws.
A letter sent to the congregation explaining the process, and providing a timeline, to change the bylaws.
August 4, 2019
Sermon: Genesis to Jesus. Looking at what the Old Testament and the Gospels have to say about gender and leadership.
Congregational meeting to present proposed bylaw changes (view in Chrome for annotations) and a make a motion to move the Annual Congregational Meeting from November 3 to 17. (This provides the required three-month notice for a vote to change the bylaws.)
MVC Membership roll posted publicly to encourage people to check their membership status.
August 11, 2019
September 15, 2019
Discovery class lunch, open for everyone, after church. Discovery is the pathway to membership and eligiblity to vote at MVC.
November 10, 2019
Last opportunity to submit membership paperwork for processing prior to the November 17 vote.
November 17, 2019
Congregational meeting and vote.
Resources for further study
Teaching that sees Scripture as reserving certain leadership roles for men only
Resources supporting this position
Teaching that sees Scripture opening all areas of leadership to men and women
Resources supporting this position
Letters from MVC Elders explaining their position:
- Dr. David Nystrom speaking at MVC — Session 1 Session 2
- New Testament Scholar N.T. Wright teaching about Scripture, gender and leadership
- Dr. Ron Pierce from Biola on Women and Men in Church Leadership