Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Post for Reader

When Women Were Priests:

Women's Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity

Karen Jo Torjesen
HarperCollins Publishers
New York, NY

From the Inside Flap:

"Under a high arch in a Roman Basilica dedicated to two women saints, Prudentiana and Praxedis, is a mosaic portraying four female figures.... The faces of Mary and the two saints are easily recognizable. But the identity of the fourth is less apparent. A carefully lettered inscription identifies the face on the far left as Theodora Episcopa, which means Bishop Theodora. The masculine form for bishop in Latin is episcopus; the feminine form is episcopa. The mosaic's visual evidence and the inscription's grammatical evidence point out unmistakable that Bishop Theodora was a woman. But the a on Theodora has been partly effaced by scratches across the glass tiles of the mosaic, leading to the disturbing conclusion that attempts were made to deface the feminine ending, perhaps even in antiquity."

This telling image begins an extraordinary odyssey into the real place of women in early Christianity. A vital contribution to the debate on women in the church, this groundbreaking book by respected scholar Karen Jo Torjesen reveals not only that women were priests, prophets, and even bishops in early Christianity, but also how and why they were systematically effaced by the institutional church.
In ancient Mediterranean society, Torjesen explains, women could play often quite powerful social and political leadership roles at the level of the household but not in public. Hence, as long as the early church gathered in private homes, women who regularly guided their households both economically and culturally often led the congregations. It was an almost subversive act to worship as Christians in the ancient world, yet women bravely organized and maintained the growing groups of followers. But as Christianity emerged from its domestic enclaves and the church became a public institution, women were relegated to private, subservient, and invisible roles dictated by Greek and Roman society's proscription of women's activity in the public sphere.
Cogent and convincing, Torjesen asserts that the sexism and misogyny that remain in the church today do not derive from Jesus and his first followers--who radically challenged conventions about gender and status--but from the social context in which Christianity flowered. Thus, those who deny women full participation in the leadership of the modern church based on the teaching and practice of Jesus and the early church, are quite simply, dead wrong.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Comment from reader

Once again Synod has bowed to the patriarchs by forbidding female elders to serve communion at Synod's worship service. Isn't it about time for the patriarchs to compromise OR not to be so overly sensitive to women serving?

Isn't it about time for Synod not to make half-hearted decisions but to give women all the privileges of the church offices i.e. serving communion , as they undoubtedly do in their home churches? We have catered and compromised long enough. Many are leaving the CRC over this waffling attitude! "

Synod 2008 Seeks Balance on Women in Office

Synod tried to show sensitivity to both sides of the women-in-office issue as it made decisions this week.

On Wednesday evening, delegates voted to discontinue the appointment of women advisers to Synod, since women now participate as delegates. On Thursday morning, Synod said that worship services during Synod should be planned to “show sensitivity for both views held in the denomination on women in office,” including the serving of communion.

But the decisions did not come easily, as delegates walked a fine line between the two positions on the issue.

As delegates wrestled with a proposal to end the practice of women advisers, they struck out wording that said synod was “rejoicing…thankful for the women delegates present this year and trusting that [the church] will continue along this path…”

“I can understand how difficult it is for them when Synod is asked with one voice to rejoice and be thankful,” said Rev. Ken Vander Horst, Classis Lake Erie.

But some delegates would have liked to go a step further by establishing a threshold number of women delegates. If the delegate threshold were not reached, additional women would be appointed as advisers – as is the practice with ethnic advisers.

It’s not easy to trust that significant numbers of women delegates will be sent to synod every year, said Rev. Joan De Vries, Classis Toronto. “I want you to hear my pain also as you have heard the pain of those who spoke on the other side.”

Thursday morning, delegates responded to an overture from Classis Minnkota asking that only men serve communion at synod’s worship services by voting to “instruct the executive director and the convening church of synod to show sensitivity for both views held in the denomination,” as they plan the service and communion.

Some delegates said that peoples’ consciences were offended by the service on Sunday when they were served communion by female elders.

“The consciences of many … who hold to the traditional view are troubled,” said Rev. George Koopmans of Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan. “I believe this recommendation is sensitive to the consciences of many.”

“It’s sad for me to sit here and listen to this,” said Rev. Ronald Chu, Classis California South. “We bind each other so we have to watch what we do and what we say… It’s sad that we don’t give each other the grace, understanding and wisdom to say ‘That’s okay.’”
Synod News Service is provided by the CRC's Office of Communications.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Searches on Google to this site

It's interesting to see how people arrived at the Exter CRC blog this week, that is if they search Google. Here is a list of the Google searches for the blog.

N'Snc - When our Church is NOT!

Exeter CRC remains a "one man show" How can so many "learned" people be so wrong (or how can the narrow minded misogynists be so right?). God help of from the "Christians"! JofA

Synod 2008 Opens Historic Session

June 14, 2008—Synod 2008 made history today by welcoming women as delegates and then by electing a woman to its executive.

Rev. Thea Leunk, pastor of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, was elected as vice president of the Christian Reformed Church in North America’s annual general assembly, which opened Saturday morning at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Rev. Joel Boot, the pastor of Ridgewood CRC in Jenison, Mich., was elected as president of synod for the second year in a row.

“Sisters and brothers, this has been a long time in coming. This is an historic occasion. I consider it to be a distinct honor and privilege to be leading you through this,” said Boot in his opening remarks.

“Last year’s synod made what is happening at this synod permissible. This year’s synod must show that this is possible.”

Last year’s synod voted to allow women to serve as delegates, a change that this year has brought 26 women to synod among the 188 delegates.

Elected as first clerk of this year’s synod was Rev. Leslie Kuiper, pastor of First CRC in Oostburg, Wisc. Rev. Laryn Zoerhof, pastor of First CRC in De Motte, Ind., was elected second clerk.

Delegates to synod, which is scheduled to meet June 14-21, will discuss and make decisions on issues ranging from a revised contemporary testimony to a review of the form of subscription that church officebearers must sign.

Also on the agenda is a recommendation to enter into full fellowship with the Protestant Church of the Netherlands as well as an extensive report calling for a more pastoral approach to ministering to persons who have been abused as well as the abusers themselves.

Rev. Richard Verkaik, pastor of the River Walk Community CRC in Battle Creek, Mich., the convening church for Synod 2008, opened the morning session by welcoming the women delegates. He called on all delegates to do their job in love and with consideration for all of the views and beliefs that they bring to the meeting.

“The church wins if you serve in love,” he said. “If you love … God will be glorified and what would be better than that.”

Verkaik also asked for prayers for agencies of the CRC, particularly the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee that “must be stretched to its very limits responding to all of the world’s crises overseas” and now in the Midwest that has been battered by tornadoes, heavy rains and floods.

During the opening session, delegates and visitors filled the Fine Arts Center with their voices of praise. In addition, Rev. Herman Keizer, director of the CRC’s Chaplaincy Services, introduced the more than 80 CRC chaplains who were in town to attend an annual chaplain’s conference.

Rev. Jerry Dykstra, executive director of the CRCNA, ended the morning session by telling delegates that they will be asked to work hard in various study committees prior to the first plenary session of synod, which could be Monday.

On Sunday afternoon, delegates will gather in the Calvin College chapel for a service of prayer and praise. In the evening, there will be a showing of “Our Family Album,” a video about the history of the CRC.

- Chris Meehan, CRC Communications

The Lighter Side

What to Watch for at Synod 2008

Welcome to the CRC Synod News Service.

For the first time in the 151-year history of the Christian Reformed Church, women will be among the delegates to the denomination’s annual synod.

When delegates from 47 classes (regional groups of churches) gather at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., for Synod 2008, 25 of the 188 representatives will be women. Synod 2007 removed the requirement that delegates to synod be male.

The agenda for Synod 2008 lacks the high profile topics such as women in ecclesiastical office that grabbed attention in previous years. However, it includes issues that hold long-term significance for the confessional foundations of the denomination.

Form of Subscription

Perhaps top on the list is the proposed revision of the Form of Subscription. The form is a statement that all officebearers in the CRC must sign, signaling their commitment to upholding and defending the creeds and confessions of the church, most significantly the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort. The form is intended to keep us all, confessionally speaking, on the same page.

But in recent years church leaders have complained that the form, written originally in the 1600s, is outdated and that its difficult text weakens its potential as a meaningful testimony for new church leaders. In some cases congregations are not even requiring new officebearers to sign the Form of Subscription.

So synod appointed a committee, which revised the form and sent it to the churches for feedback. Using that feedback, the committee drafted a new version, called the Covenant of Ordination. It is up to Synod 2008 to decide what to do with it. Some are happy with the revision, others are not, and still others think the whole document should be sent back to the churches for further study, after which Synod 2009 should deal with it.

Contemporary Testimony

Also in the confessional vein, “Our World Belongs to God” underwent a revision, and that, too, is coming to Synod 2008. Commonly known as the Contemporary Testimony, it was written in 1986 as a modern expression of what the Christian Reformed Church believes. While not on a par with the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dort, it is widely used by CRC churches.

But much has changed since 1986, so to remain contemporary the testimony needed an update. As with the revision to the Form of Subscription, some are in favor of the rewrite, others are not, and some say the whole thing should be sent back to the churches for a year.

Protestant Church of the Netherlands

Another item on this year’s agenda is the relationship between the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the newly formed Protestant Church of the Netherlands (PCN). When the PCN was formed, it enfolded the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, also known as the GKN (Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland), the church that has often been called the mother or sister of the CRC in North America.

In recent decades the CRC has had a strained relationship with the GKN. The two denominations were distanced by differences about biblical interpretation and acceptance of homosexual practice.

However, with the formation of the PCN, that mother church no longer exists, and the Interchurch Relations Committee of our denomination would like synod to establish ecclesiastical fellowship with the new denomination, in line with the openness of our new ecumenical charter.

That new charter, adopted by Synod 2006, takes a more open approach to interchurch relations. It marked a shift from stressing shared confessionality and an implicit goal of mutual discipline to a greater openness to working together in cooperation with various denominations despite certain differences.

The agenda also includes overtures (requests) to synod, on topics ranging from the second Sunday worship service to environmental policy to the new bi-denominational hymnal in development with the Reformed Church in America.

Synod convenes at Calvin College on Saturday, June 14, 2008. You can follow the proceedings by calling the synod hotline at 1-888-CR-SYNOD (1-888-277-9663). In Grand Rapids, the local number is 616-224-0841.

To receive e-mail updates, send an e-mail to crcsynodnews-subscribe@list.crcna.net or subscribe online at www.crcna.org/enewsletters.

Live webcasts will also be available at www.crcna.org/pages/synod_webcast.cfm.

- Gayla R. Postma

Synod News Service is provided by the CRC's Office of Communications. E-mail us.

You received this newsletter because you are subscribed to the CRC Synod News Service list. If you do not wish to receive future issues, send a blank e-mail to crcsynodnews-unsubscribe@list.crcna.net.

Great News!!!!

Dear Friends,

We've prayed and waited and watched and worked a very long time for the
day when women would break the glass ceiling of Synod. That day has come! We
all owe a resounding THANK YOU! to all the people who have contributed
something to the coming of this moment.

I'd like to invite you to come to the opening day of business for Synod,
Tuesday, June 17 to witness the first time that women will serve as
delegates to the Christian Reformed Church. And later in the day, at 9 p.m.,
to come to my house (1920 Lotus SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506) to be together,
talk about and smile at the this historic moment. Pleae bring a little
something to drink/eat with you.

Here's the schedule for the day at Synod on the 17th:

Tuesday, June 17
8:15 - 8:45 a.m. Opening worship
8:45 - 11:45 a.m. Plenary session
11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:15 - 5:00 p.m. Plenary session
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:00 - 9 :00 p.m. Plenary session

If you're a real diehard fan of every moment of 'firstness,' you may want
to come to the Saturday session, where women will be seated for the first
time on the FAC stage with male delegates. Here's the schedule of that day:

Saturday, June 14
9:00 - 11:00 a.m. Opening session of synod, election of officers,
finalization of committee assignments
11:00 - 12:30 p.m. Lunch and orientation of committee chairpersons and
1:15 - 3:00 p.m. Advisory-committee meetings
3:00 - 3:20 p.m. Break
3:20 - 5:30 p.m. Advisory-committee meetings
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Advisory-committee meeting

We had over 400 in the audience last year--let's try to meet or beat that
this year! Helen Sterk

Helen Sterk, Ph.D.
Chair, Communication Arts and Sciences
Calvin College
De Vos Communication Center
1810 East Beltline Ave. S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49546-5951
fax: 616-526-6601

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Prayer Request

Posted for reader:

from Joan DeVries
to Joan of Arc
date Fri, Jun 6, 2008 at 5:53 PM
subject Prayer Updates

Hello all,

We have been praying for an 18 month old child named Nathaniel, son of Pastor John Wildeboer’s cousin in Alberta. Nathaniel died a few days again after a 4 month battle with cancer. Henry and John W have gone to Alberta for the weekend to attend the funeral and be with family.

John Hofland is getting very weak. The family and I are discussing the future together. Please pray for Riek, John and their family I this time.


Pastor Joan DeVries,

ClearView Church

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Of Pallor or Valour?

"Now, having established a woman's valued place in Scripture, we find confusion within various teachings regarding a woman's role. How can we understand passages used to diminish a woman's role within the body of Yeshua? Let's look:

"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." 1 Timothy 2:11-15

But what does it mean? Women have to be silent all the time? Let's carefully examine the 1 Timothy passage.

Women are to learn in silence. Silence here is Greek hesuchia (Strong's 2271). It is NOT phimoo which would mean 'muzzle' (contrary to how many may want read it) Hesuchia is better rendered 'quietness' and is translated more accurately in 2 Thesalonians 3:11-12 "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Yeshua Messiah, that with quietness/hesuchia they work, and eat their own bread." Clearly, in this passage, it is not assumed hesuchia means that they are to never utter a word. Simply put, they held their tongue and kept the peace. (as in Acts 22:2). This sort of quietness denotes making a conscious choice not to speak out and stir things up, not the same as being muzzled and never ever uttering a single sound ever. Big difference. So back to the 1 Timothy passage, women are to learn in quiet peace and not teach or usurp authority over a man, but instead, will hold her tongue. The word teach here is didasko (Strong's 1321) meaning "to give instruction." So are we saying that women may give no instructions at all? Let's look closer now at what it means to 'usurp authority' -- it comes from the Greek authenteo (Strong's 831) and means to dominate or take control. Women are simply commanded not to dominate or control men with their teaching. Now this is beginning to make sense. This is not a prohibition against women doing any teaching, but instead a prohibition against women having disciples. Yochanan The Immerser and Yeshua are two important examples of teachers with dedicated disciples. Their disciples lived with them, slept with them, traveled with them everywhere, learned from them, lived their lives according to their teacher's instruction. It is *this* relationship a woman is being warned of. Women are not to take disciples, because such a leader would dominate and teach -- strongly influence their follower's lives. For a woman to take on disciples, she would upset G-d's order and have dominance over men. We can be sure it is this type of leadership teaching role being prohibited here, since we have examples of women performing other types of teaching elsewhere in Scripture. Let's look:

And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." Acts 18:26

Notice that she does not dominate here - she is acting as a helpmeet; she is helping to teach a man alongside her husband. She is not taking on disciples or doing anything unbecoming of a woman. Yet she is helping to teach. "
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