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Supporting women’s call to ministry

Why the RCA supports women in church leadership

The Reformed Church in America believes women are called to use their gifts at every level of church leadership. We are working to become a place where all women are equipped and empowered to fully exercise their gifts in the life, ministry, mission, and offices of the church.

The creation story tells us that women and men were made in God’s image to care for the world as partners. Losing the equal partnership God intended us to have obscures God’s will for both women and men.

Throughout the Old Testament, the stories of women’s leadership and service testify that both women and men should be laboring with God in creation. These stories thread the faithful actions of women like Esther, Ruth, and Rahab into the greater story of God’s plan for Israel and the world.

All the Old Testament stories lead up to the arrival of Jesus Christ. Born of a woman, Jesus was the perfect image and likeness of the almighty Creator whose divinity he shared. In Jesus, God’s intent for the human race was reasserted and finally sealed. Jesus came to serve and to call women and men to God’s service.

At a time when the participation of Jewish women in religious life was largely restricted to domestic roles, when few women were instructed in the Torah and even fewer were allowed to teach it, when women were frequently cut off from temple services because they were ritually unclean—Jesus offered women new roles.

The women who followed Jesus followed him all the way to the cross. After his death, these women came to his tomb to fill the traditional role of anointing his body. But instead, they were the very first to bear witness to Christ’s resurrection. In following Jesus, these women discovered their calling to be his disciples. In bearing witness to Christ’s resurrection, they discovered the full freedom that comes with being saved by Christ, and they began to claim their responsibility as priests and rulers with Christ forever.

Jesus invites both women and men into full freedom as his disciples. For Jesus, the question of who can teach or preach or heal is simply a question of who can be a faithful follower. Who can be a reliable witness to the resurrection? Who can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, embody the servant ministry of Jesus Christ?

RCA Women: Legacy of Leadership Booklet

“RCA Women: A Legacy of Leadership” offers a sampling of the strong, faith-filled, trailblazing women in leadership throughout the history of the Reformed Church in America (RCA). We honor and celebrate all RCA women’s stories, told and yet untold, across the United States and Canada and well beyond.

These inspiring stories, with all their joys and challenges, are part of our past, present, and future legacy as God’s beloved daughters who have and will continue to make significant, transformative contributions in the church and in the world. We stand alongside our many ecumenical sisters who also have powerful stories of living into their unique, God-given gifts and callings.

Want to go deeper? You might find these resources helpful:

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