Must we talk about equality in ministry within a denomination that, from its beginnings, has counted among its areas of service a call to pastoral ministry for both men and women?
If you are like me, maybe not. But in practice is has shown to be necessary because it is clear that opinions, cultures, society, and even the influence of other denominations have outweighed the teaching professed by our Wesleyan-Armenian denomination.
This was the motivation for the annual LLAMADOS conference, “Equally Called,” which fostered a dialogue about the theological position of the denomination. The conference was jointly hosted by the Nazarene Seminary of the Americas and Transformed Ministry on July 30-31.
While previous conferences had been held on the campus of SENDAS, the pandemic necessitated that this year the conference would be live-streamed. It was transmitted as a private event via YouTube using a high-quality production thanks to the support of the Mesoamerica Regional Communications team.
The theological dialogue was originally suggested by Transformed Ministry around the three main points: the call of God on the lives of men and women to ministry, the social and cultural influences on women called to ministry, and the Wesleyan heritage of equality in ministry. SENDAS had already shown great interest in the topic through its inclusion of a new course, Theology of Women in Ministry, which is now part of their bachelor’s in theology degree.
The thematic trajectory of the 2021 “Equally Called” conference was developed using the formats of presentations, forums, and conversations in which participants could interact directly with hosts and speakers using the chat function, thus receiving immediate responses either through the chat or through the streaming broadcast.
Two key themes emerged during the conference: interdependent ministry and the ministry of mutuality (equality). The latter theme addressed the perspective of John Wesley.
As a Spanish-speaking people, we should promote Wesley’s teaching of the ministry of mutuality in our local churches, in Sunday school, providing tools to parents at home and our pastors (regardless of gender), to help them embody the importance of mutuality. We should not allow cultural mores or social stereotypes to outweigh God’s purpose for men and women.
I recognize that men and women have different anatomies. We differ in the way we relate to others and in the way we think and resolve conflicts. However, in terms of address the issues of life, we depend on each other. We do not compete. We complement each other. We need each other. We are “Equally Called!”
Rev. Sharon Víquez
Coordinator and Moderator of Llamados 2021
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