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International meeting on gender justice

Female pastors attending the international meeting on gender justice organized by UEM (photo: UEM/Africa).

It is still impossible to believe that churches and Christian organizations have accepted unbiblical gender relations as normal and were unable to sufficiently change the cultural patterns that are contrary to the Bible and deny women rights. On the other hand, in some cases where cultural patterns have changed and became more biblically based, Christians have become resistant to adapt to changes in their cultural context. We see Christians around the world struggling to move Christian communities – in particular churches and theological institutions – to dismantle patriarchy and sexism by mainstreaming gender discourse and justice in all theological disciplines and church ministries. The rejection of the ordination of women in official offices in the some denominations continues to be a major point of discussion and controversy within and among many churches.

In response to the issue of gender inequality, UEM Africa region conducted a meeting held from 11th to 15th February 2019 at Isano guest House of the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda (EPR). Eighteen (18) Female pastors from member churches of UEM Africa met and discuss on the following topic:

  • IN GOD’S IMAGE: A Biblical and Theological survey of the dignity of women and men
  • GENDER AND EQUALITY: Men and Women in Church and Society

One of the leading question was: “What can we do for gender justice in the church and Society?” A long the discussion, it was realized that though there is the significant development within the churches in advancing the partnership of women and men, there is a notable increase of in the ordination of women and men and more and more women are becoming visible in the life of the church.  There is increase of awareness of the importance of the representation in all area of the life of church and in some denominations the criteria to ensure balance. Moreover women are getting opportunities of benefiting the scholarship from different organizations like UEM. Nevertheless the gap still wide and there is a long way to go to realize the just community. This why all participants suggested that:

  • Dehumanizing structures that render women powerless should be addressed by churches in an open and frank dialogue in view of improving the position of women.
  • Pastors should preach and teach gender topics from the pulpit. Bible should be read with a just eyes and interpreted with Hermeneutical approach.
  • Gender topics should be introduced into theological institution, Sunday school teaching, cell groups booklets etc. Resources of gender topic should be translated in the local languages in order to help the grassroots people.
  • Formulate “Gender Policy” that will guide for gender balance in the churches according to each context. Regulations, laws and policies imposed on women such as denying theological studies and ordination to single women must be revised by the churches.

Rev. Dr. Muke Nagaju (head of UEM Africa regional office - Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

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