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Major Christian denomination votes to ordain women in historic move

by Heather Preston

International Protestant denomination Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) has voted to revise its statement of faith for the first time in nearly six decades.

In a momentous decision last week, delegates at the C&MA’s 2023 General Council approved a change to allow women to serve in pastoral roles, following four years of debate. Before the vote, women were consecrated for ministry but not ordained and could not use the title of pastor.

More than 60 per cent of delegates voted in favour of the Statement of Faith revisions which accept the ordination of women for spiritual leadership, with the exception of senior roles requiring male eldership. Under the revisions, official workers may use the title of “pastor” or “reverend” for specific ministry roles “at the discretion of local church leadership.”

In a statement announcing the change, the C&MA said the adopted recommendations “upheld that eldership in Alliance churches consists of the lead pastor, elected lay elders, and other male members of the licensed ministry staff” and that the designation of “Consecrated and Ordained be used to indicate the denomination’s endorsement on all [qualified] official workers, both male and female.”

“Official workers may also carry the title of “pastor” or “reverend” for specific ministry roles at the discretion of local church leadership,” the C&MA added.

The "National Conversation" initiative was launched in 2019, spearheaded by U.S. Alliance President John Stumbo and Church Ministries Vice President Terry Smith, who met with church leaders across all U.S. Alliance districts to shape the denominations revised Statement of Faith.

CMA Director for Media Relations Peter Burgo said the revisions “affirm the Alliance’s Trinitarian view of God” and “strengthen the emphasis on the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit made available to every believer.”

The revised Statement of Faith also clarifies the process of salvation, with additional phrases such as "justified by grace through faith," and acknowledges the reality of spiritual warfare through terms like "delivered from the dominion of darkness". The premillennial view of Christ’s second coming is also affirmed "without disqualifying those with differing millennial perspectives" from ministry.

C&MA join a number of church denominations to change their views on female ordination in recent history, including theEpiscopal Church in the USA, United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church in the USA.

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