Theology of Women in Ministry at SENDAS

In 2020 a change was made during a review to the SENDAS curriculum on the bachelor’s level to include the course “Theology of Women in Ministry.” This course was taught for the first time simultaneously to two different groups of students via Zoom® beginning in January through March of 2021. Drs. Elvin Heredia of Puerto Rico and Monica Mastronardi of Costa Rica were professors for the course. Professor Mastronardi developed the new syllabus.

The foundation of the course, originally translated from English by Dr. Mario Zani and his wife Ana Maria, was graciously provided by Dr. Roberto Hodgson, director of Multicultural Ministries for the USA/Canada Region. The course was supplemented and adapted for SENDAS.

A total of 39 new students between the two groups (22 women and 17 men) from the district NorCal, New England and New York received the course.

Below are some student testimonies:

Sarai Cabrera (California): “The course has been a unique and gratifying experience. From the moment we received the description of the material, I continued to anticipate each unit. I thank God because through this course, God’s call on my heart has been revived and affirmed, and I have learned to recognize that as a woman serving in God’s work, I am an equal partner in ministry to the Church because I have been created in the image and likeness of God to be part of all men and women, and we desire to work for his kingdom together, and that we are a complement with a unique purpose to give our best in service to the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The professor was excellent, and the material was exceptional from the beginning to the end of the course!”

Abraham Guerrero (Massachusetts): “In this course we have affirmed the equality of women in ministry. It is clear to me that from the beginning of creation, God created both in gender equality. It has been interesting to study the biblical foundations that there are no limits for women as to their involvement as pastors or leaders and they should have the same opportunities to prepare for the administration of their call and mission.”

Ana Padilla (Massachusetts): “Through digging into the Scriptures, I learned what Paul really wrote, and I understood that he did not relegate women to a position of subordination within the church.”

Maria Isabel (New Hampshire): “Taking this course about the ministry of women in the church has not only given me more knowledge but has opened my eyes to see the stories of many women who have given everything to assert themselves as the creation God intended. I am also thankful to God for the men who have defended women as the Apostle Paul did who valued and recognized their ministries and for Jesus, our Savior who has given us a great example of valuing each human being as equal, without differences.”

Edwin Alvarez (Massachusetts): “I had never been able to understand with so much clarity what God tells us in the first chapter of Genesis with respect to the women, as an ideal helpmate, as a partner and friend. I have been able to have a better understanding and clarity about what women really mean to God and that He expects it to mean to us as well.”

Ermunda Hidalgo (New York): “In the community in which we serve, the great majority are Hispanic and within this culture there is a lot of machismo where, due to ignorance about women, who on most occasions, are treated inferior both in the ministry context as well as in the secular context. My duty is to help them to find their true value in God, that God does not think of or see them as inferior human beings, but that before our Father, men and women have the same value and abilities, both to occupy places of service in the community as well as to serve in ministry when He calls us to his work.”

Carlos Rodriguez (Massachusetts): “At no point during creation did God relegate that women are on a different level. Due to the sin of man, he took supremacy over the woman, and that continues to affect us. However, we are in a time to be able to amend those errors and make a difference, especially those of us men serving the Lord, who are the main ones in charge of teaching new generations to accept God’s original design.”

Ramon Galdamez (California): “This course has come to destroy walls…a real bomb for those who read the Bible from a male perspective.”

Luis Chafla (New England): “This course has changed my way of thinking. The male-centered attitude that was in my heart has been removed and now I can begin again, but correctly this time, following the truth. I have learned to better interpret the Word and not be left to be guided by the predominant way of thinking in society.”

Professor Monica shared: “It has been a privilege and challenge for me to teach this course Theology of Women in Ministry. We have studied the biblical and Wesleyan foundations of gender equality, equality that John Wesley and the women and men who founded the Church of the Nazarene believed and preached. A great challenge remains to encourage women, to alleviate their fears, and to help our leaders in identifying visible and invisible machismo which has permeated the beliefs and practices of many Christians. The Church of the Nazarene began with 25% ordained women clergy, but throughout history rather than growing, that percentage has significantly diminished. This course has inspired us to assume the commitment that touches every one of us, as advocates for gender equality in the family, the church, and society.”

Professor Elvin added: “I thank God and SENDAS for having chosen and permitted me to offer this course Theology of Women in Ministry. I believe that it imprints a positive and definitive seal about the ministry of women in the church, above all in the Church of the Nazarene. The inclusion of this course in the program is a historic event, and I thank the Lord and the SENDAS directors for allowing me to be part of it. The truth is that this course has come to change many lives…including mine!”

Rev. Carol Rittenhouse, SENDAS Public Relations.

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