FAQs on FFW

FAQs on the ECC’s New “Women’s Initiatives”

Fostering the Flourishing of Women in Every Season of life, Ministry Context, and Personal Call.

Why move from ECC’s Ministry to Women to “Women’s Initiatives”?

The Evangelical Covenant Church fosters the flourishing of women in Christian discipleship, lay leaders, and clergy. President John Wenrich has called the ECC to integrate its ministry to women into every season of life, ministry context, and personal call. Instead of operating as a silo ministry, left alone to flourish, ministry integration will contextualize a more focused ministry into our five core Mission Priorities and ministry affiliates. The ECC supports and advocates for women to fully live out her identity in Christ within every area of life.

Does the new Director of Women’s Initiatives serve as a Women’s Ministry Director?

The simple answer is no. The title of this job emphasizes the collaborative role of this position. This leader will not be the sole champion and leader for this effort. This position will partner with each Mission Priority and our ECC constituencies to foster the flourishing of women contextually. Our new Director of Women’s Initiatives will work with our denominational constituents, Conference Leaders, Executive Ministers, and Mission Priority Directors contextually and collaboratively.

Working collaboratively to build mutual respect between brothers and sisters in Christ, this position will engage in biblical teaching, preaching, and other forms of communication to  foster the flourishing of women in Kingdom work and witness. Because this initiative spans across the entire Covenant, this position will reside in the Office of the President, allowing this person to work with all Mission Priorities and their teams. This person’s sole focus will be the advancement of women, particularly through our five Mission Priorities: Develop Leaders, Make and Deepen Disciples, Love Mercy Do Justice, Start and Strengthen Churches and Serve Globally.

Isn’t this job too big for one person?

Yes! That is why the nature of this role is collaborative. This role will not be responsible to singularly carry out every initiative for women in the ECC. Instead, this person will work collaboratively across all teams and mission priorities to contextually minister to women within each Mission Priority. We realize it will be a long road, and this person is the first step in gathering many voices to begin a collaborative process of analyzing, strategizing, implementing, and evaluating the flourishing of women within the Covenant, as well as its outreach to women.

What are some of the initial challenges this initiative will face?

Advancement of Women Clergy: The ECC has never employed a position in Covenant Offices to focus exclusively on the advancement of clergy women. The Commission on Biblical Gender Equality conducted a study concluding that an exclusive full-time position was needed to address the multitude of challenges that women clergy face when it comes to the capacity of fully living out their calls to vocational ministry. There exist many cultural and systemic challenges that prevent women from being called, thus leading many female clergy to serve churches that are in crisis, under-resourced, or that have other factors limiting their abilities to be successful (or leave them unable to find any types of pastoral jobs which fit them). Therefore, this initiative will work alongside Develop Leaders Mission Priority to successfully advance the flourishing of our Women Clergy and the future role of a Clergy Women’s Advancement.

Women Ministries Sustainability: The laity has long had an established and effective Women Ministries. Whereas churches in the past could effectively minister to women through one broad bandwidth, an effective ministry to women today requires much more contextualization and focus. In addition, by decentralizing women’s ministries to the Conferences and local churches, each  constituency can assess how to contextually minister to women within their current landscape. The objective in moving from a Women’s Ministry to a ministry to women is to speak to the needs of today’s younger generation of all ethnicities, including ongoing discipleship and leadership development, while still supporting and engaging women in every season of life, ministry context, and personal call.

The Divide Between Women Laity and Clergy: A long-established divide between laity and clergy has been professed by women on both sides. Due to both constituencies functioning independently for a long time, there has been a lack of communication, understanding, and holistic ministry. As a result, very different cultures, goals and structures exist between the two groups. At times in fact, they hinder each other. We recognize division weakens and limits growth. Therefore, one of the goals for this initiative is to unite the two groups toward mutual support by cultivating an integrated pathway for all women, laity and clergy, as disciples of Christ.

Theological Gap: We recognize the gap between our theological affirmation of women in all areas of church service and the personal experience of our women clergy being marginalized, oppressed, and misunderstood. Therefore, this initiative will cultivate pathways of theological congruence and accountability between affirmation and practice. Leading this initiative from The Centrality of the Word, with the authority of the President’s Office, this initiative will provide theological teaching and practical training for our churches to align with our denominational theological affirmation.

How will we move forward with this initiative?

Through collaboration, a method that has been utilized by multiple leaders and ministries in the past, will continue:

A Four-Phase Plan

  1. Assessment/research/evaluation. This requires meeting with key leaders, partners, and fellow covenanters to discuss how to best move forward in ministering well to women today. Research parameters will need to be defined as we conduct research regarding the flourishing of women clergy in the ECC across all 11 conferences.
  2. Continued relationships and conversations with key constituencies will be needed in order to strategize and plan for effective ministry to women in the future.
  3. Decided Strategies will be implemented with resources and support over time.
  4. Evaluation and improvement. Evaluation for improvement is a reality of today’s constantly changing landscape. Part of any healthy leadership effort is the need for ongoing adjustment to become even more effective. We expect the need to continually evaluate and improve our ministry to women.

What can we expect to see and how can we stay connected with these changes?

Communication:

  • Digital: Explore our new Women’s Initiatives Website page (covchurch.org/women)to connect with current ministries for the flourishing of women in all five Mission Priorities and various venues
  • In-person: Watch for guest speakers, online webinars, and roundtable venues for the collaborative advancement of ministering to women of all ages in every area of life, ministry context, and personal call.

Contextualized Ministry:

According to your ministry context and season of life, look for ways to plug into the Mission Priority God has called you into. We aim to create intentional pathways for women to flourish within one or more Mission Priorities (Make and Deepen Disciples, Develop Leaders, Start and Strengthen Churches, Love Mercy & Do Justice, and Serve Globally).

Events

The ECC will continue to host events where Covenanters, both male and female, can come together for the flourishing of women in today’s church. From specialized conferences, topical workshops, and focused retreats, we look forward to working together for the flourishing of all women in and through the ECC.

How can I help right now?

Pray! Change is a difficult landscape for everyone. No matter how positive or how helpful change may be, we all feel threatened and confused in a changing environment. We also recognize our humanity and therefore must lean into the power of the Holy Spirit for wisdom, direction, and implementation. We do so with humility and grace, asking all Covenanters to extend the same humility and grace to one another. We welcome your insight, concerns, and wisdom. We know we are better together. We ask that you pray for us and with us, fostering the flourishing of women in every season of life, ministry context, and personal call in Christ.

Engage! Start getting to know your Mission Priority and Conference leaders. Connect with the areas of ministry God has placed a burden and passion on your heart. Reach out to FFW for help in finding your place of ministry support and empowerment.