U.S. BFL study conference listening committee offers report

Listening committee collects notes from table conversations, offers observations and questions

Ed Boschman, representing the Listening Committee, reads the group's report at the close of the BFL study conference on women in pastoral ministry. Photo: Janae Rempel

This article was updated Feb. 8, 2019, to clarify the committee’s work. 

The Listening Committee at the USMB study conference, “The Bible and Women in Pastoral Ministry: Understanding and Applying God’s Word,” was comprised of Ed Boschman, Lynden, Washington; Luke Haidle, Henderson, Nebraska; Krystal Klaassen, Fresno, California; and Helene Wedel, Yale, South Dakota.

Boschman read the group’s observations and questions during the closing session Wednesday morning. The committee formed their report based on what they heard during the question and answer time following each presentation and comments made by table groups that were recorded and turned in to the Listening Committee after each session.

The listening committee report is not the opinion(s) or an expressed summary of the study conference by the committee but is simply a listing of opinions/statements that were expressed at the event by various attendees.

General Observations

It’s OK to disagree on our study topic.

It’s OK to have strong convictions about it (women in pastoral ministry), so long as those grow out of serious Bible study.

It’s not OK to castigate or demean or denigrate someone we disagree with.

Culture always matters in hermeneutics and in application of interpretations.

Cultural influence can be for good, and it can be bad, so discernment is needed.

Women in pastoral ministry is not a simple subject.

Women in ministry is not a salvatory issue.

Consistency in hermeneutics and application is significantly important.

The current USMB guidelines statement (1999) is viewed as very generous by some and as too restrictive by some.

There exist among us strident egalitarians and strident complementarians.

There exist among us moderate egalitarians and moderate complementarians.

There exist among us humble egalitarians and humble complementarians.  This is a preferred reality.

Some of our churches are more restrictive than our current guideline (1999) define and this, as well as the guideline itself, have resulted in wounds for gifted women willing, able and desirous to serve (in lead pastoral positions) .

Complementarian women among us have felt impugned by egalitarian women.

This whole thing is a power issue, and men won’t lay it down.

It seems unlikely we will be able to find total agreement.

You can’t give up or lay down a right you have never had.

1 Timothy is written to Tim(othy), not the church.

District leaders need to step up to encourage appropriate women in ministry.

Acts 15 is about a salvatory matter, therefore may not be appropriate for this matter.

The mission of the church is the critical issue.

God can and does work through imperfect theology.


Did we really do Bible study together here?

Who gets to decide polity and practice?

If the Scriptures are not clearly definitive, should we not err on the side of grace?

Would humble be a better descriptor than united?

Would inclusive be a better descriptor than united?

Is the current evangelical church following culture?

How does our Anabaptist family compare to other theological platforms?

Is this really all about whether women should be freed to be lead pastors exercising teaching authority in our churches and among us?

Does egalitarianism help the progress of the Gospel?

Is it integrous to have female professors at our seminary but not allow female lead pastors?

Where are we off to from here? What’s next?


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