In 2021, the PCNSW Women’s Ministry Committee (WMC) distributed a paper and accompanying survey to PCNSW Presbyteries, Sessions and Churches titled “The Engagement of Women in Decision Making Processes”.
In consideration of the responses received, the WMC brought to the 2022 GANSW a series of deliverances to encourage small, relational, local and long term changes that would allow for better engagement of women in the courts of the church. These deliverances were passed by the GANSW with a strong, supportive vote.(These have been made available for you to read on our website: pcnswwomen.org.au)
To encourage further consideration of these deliverances, we have prepared some reflection questions, to help you assess, as a Session, how the women in your church experience your leadership and ministry.
Our suggestion is that you consider these questions on two separate occasions: at the first, taking the opportunity to step back and openly consider your answers; and again a month later, this time taking the opportunity to step up and consider applying the appropriate changes.
Our prayer is that these questions will enable you to reflect and consider how small, relational and local changes could shape our denomination in ways that are truly for our good, as co-heirs and co-workers; for our witness to the world, and ultimately, for Gods glory.
The following reflection questions are offered to assist this process:
1.Has our session intentionally discussed the ways in which women can be involved in the ministries of your church?
2.What are the pathways for women to be trained, equipped, deployed and supported in ministry roles in our church?
3.What are the processes in our church for women to share their thinking and concerns with leadership?
4.What are the processes in our church for women to disclose abuse or feeling unsafe?
5.How do women experience these processes (inaccessible/accessible, unsafe/safe, assured of confidentiality/ unsure about how their information is used)?
6.Does church leadership intentionally engage women in decision making forums- what are the specific mechanisms of these engagement processes?
7.Which women are invited to participate in decision making forums and on what basis?
8.Where are the blindspots in our church leadership- what are we not seeing?
9.How do women experience the leadership of this church?
10.How would leadership go about discerning the answers to these questions?
11.Do these questions raise theological questions that your session may need to consider?
Stage 2: Stepping Up into Healthy Ministry Practices
What concrete steps could church leadership take to better engage women in decision making processes and ministries within this church?
Establish congregational leadership teams comprising both men and women.
Induct deacons- female and male to serve the congregation (Code 2.01-08).
Appoint a female Breaking The Silence contact person and clearly explain their role to the church.
Establish pastoral care teams with men and women as members.
Upfront roles in public worship (what roles can women be included in?)
Women to be included on Committee of Management.
For Sessions (in line with provisions of Code 4:17)
Session can set up a women’s advisory group whom they liaise with on specific issues.
Session can invite key women to the first part of Session meetings to hear their thinking and then make their final decision after they have left.
Session can choose to appoint some of their key women to a “co-worker” position and give them the privileges of an associate while Session sits.
Session to take an active interest in women’s ministries and children’s ministries at the church.