EUROPEAN WESLEYAN HOLINESS WOMEN EQUIPPED FOR MINISTRY LEADERSHIP
More than 150 women journeyed to the Wesleyan Holiness Conference for Women Clergy and Ministry Leaders on the outskirts of Zagreb, Croatia, in November 2018. Their influence stretches across 24 European countries. Some came wrestling with the legitimacy of their call. Others came ready to be challenged and equipped—both academically and practically—for ministry leadership and service. These women came to carve out a theological space to explore, to deepen, to be equipped, and to broaden their understanding of their call to ministry.
The conference participants represented faith communities from The Wesleyan Church, the Church of God, the Church of the Nazarene, One Mission Society (OMS), the United Methodists (Russia), and the Anglican Church. The nine-member steering committee was also intentionally diverse, with a shared leadership from The Wesleyan Church, the Church of the Nazarene, and OMS.
The content of the conference was a determined balance of deliberate theology and practical skill-building for ministry with thirteen workshops focused under four broad themes of reimagining: the minister, the church, healthy relationships, and theology. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador of The Wesleyan Church, Dr. Deirdre Brower-Latz, Principal of Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, England, and Rev. Dina Horne, Global Partners NEXT Internship Site Developer, preached the keynote messages examining Jesus’ interactions with women from the book of Mark.
The conference’s interdenominational steering committee hoped that the intentionally broad inclusion of women into the theological conversation would be transformative. The presenters were from a diverse spectrum in terms of ethnicity, geography, age, experience, and ministry responsibilities. The attendance list stretched from women who were still exploring their call all the way to women who fulfill the top levels of ordained leadership in their denominations. The result was a healthy environment for exploration, encouragement, and being equipped.
A hope to form both a present and a future where a woman in the pulpit is a normal occurrence.
Helga, a lay leader at Ziva Nada (Living Hope) Wesleyan Church in Split, Croatia, was surprised by how God challenged her during a workshop focused around the assumption that women were already serving in active roles of leadership in their local congregations. The challenge to check motives for ministry was powerful. Helga summed up her conference experience with one word: liberating.
CALLED: Reimagine is a strong statement for the egalitarian position on women and ministry—a position held by the majority of churches in the Wesleyan Holiness tradition. Egalitarians believe that women are equally called and gifted by God into any and all roles of leadership in the church. There are pockets of growing acceptance that can be seen predominantly in North America and Western Europe where churches draw upon the precedence of earlier generations within the Wesleyan Holiness movement who ordained women.
Across the varied European continent, this generation of Wesleyan Holiness women has a hope for young women and men. CALLED: Reimagine is a step in the direction of that hope to form both a present and a future where a woman in the pulpit is a normal occurrence because the Lord of the harvest is calling and equipping all servants.
Teanna Sunberg, Church of the Nazarene, Budapest, Hungary, is ordained in the Church of the Nazarene, holding two degrees—one of them theological. Teanna coordinates a theological program for ministerial preparation for Central Europe.
Dina Horne, Global Partners, Vienna, Austria, is an ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church. Dina is Site Developer for NEXT, a mentored cross-cultural immersion experience that equips young people for lifelong global engagement
Cover Photo Credit: iStock.com/asiseeit