• An examination and assessment of the role and status of women in the ‘holistic’ ministry of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus

      Bacon, Hannah; Ackroyd, Ruth; Daba Bultum, Bekure (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2011-04-07)
      The purpose of the study is to investigate and analyse the role and status of women in the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) holistic ministry. Although since 1973 the EECMY has made some effort to support women’s ministry by passing a number of different policy decisions to authorise women’s involvement in different Church ministries, women are still silenced in various areas in ministry. The study, therefore, thoroughly examines and analyzes where, how and why women are silenced in the EECMY ministry. Findings from my fieldwork suggest a number of areas of ministry where women are silenced and demonstrate substantial reasons for this silencing. The study reveals that women are denied opportunity to participate fully in four key areas of decision-making, evangelism, leadership and ordained ministry for theological and cultural reasons. The investigation shows that women experience exclusion through under-representation and restricted participation in various areas of EECMY’s holistic ministry, but particularly in top leadership roles. Findings show that theological arguments are used to subordinate women with the effect that in the home, church and wider public spheres they are relegated to domestic rather than strategic roles. The study then seeks to respond to these cultural and theological barriers which exclude women from ministry by proposing a theology that is inclusive and liberating. It does this by means of seminal texts and Gospel stories about women. Further, it directly challenges oppressive texts, such as 1 Cor. 14:34-35, 1 Tim. 2:11-15 and Gen. 2, 3, which are used to oppress women in ministry and legitimise men’s authority over women and keep them in submission. By using liberative texts, such as 1 Cor. 11:5, Gal. 3:28 and Gen. 1:27, as lenses through which the other texts may be read, women can find a scriptural basis for their full involvement in the ministry of the Church using the gifts that God has given them. In order to realize this vision, the thesis proposes adoption of a series of principles which emerge from the liberative texts, including conscientization, engendered theological education and partnership. Embracing these principles will lead women in the EECMY to develop and engage in practical strategies to gradually bring about positive change so that the barriers of patriarchy will be dismantled and women will achieve full representation and participation in public, strategic and valued areas of ministry.