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UK News

One in five Christian women still hold traditional views over male headship

by Alex Collett

Just one in five Christian women claim females should not be in authority over men in church leadership.

That's one finding from a new survey conducted by Premier with over 800 women from across the UK.

It also found, four out of five Christian women say their church is a place where female voices are always listened to and honoured.

The findings are being released on International Women's Day. To mark the occasion, we've been speaking to a variety of women who hold different roles within their church.

Priscilla Reid is a former church elder from Christian Fellowship Church (CFC), in Belfast, Northern Ireland where she served for 20 years.

She told Premier her experience of becoming a church elder was quite positive, however that was not the case for others: "I think I was in a very smooth, privileged, blessed position compared to some of the stories I hear from other women who've been in leadership. 

"I really didn't come up against a lot of opposition. 

"I did feel affirmed. I did feel the doors open for me. I never felt like I was I was getting a lot of resistance. 

"[However] I've met a lot of women who've been actually very damaged. I met with one just on Friday and she was damaged by the reactions of many male colleagues.

"Perhaps out of their insecurities, things that would be valued in a man are presented as negative in a woman."

Reid talked about how certain scripture in the Bible - of only men being allowed to become elders in the church - was taken in literal context, by some of their congregation. Something she believed should be challenged.

"It was really important for us that we could say, hand on heart, there is another way to view these difficult passages of scripture, there is another theological proposition that is totally valid and so therefore, we did study it."

Bola Babs is a student and a lead worship singer for C3 Church in Cambridge.

She thinks it's important to keep an open mind about scripture, she said: "When we read the Bible, Timothy for example, where it says that women shouldn't be in authority over men, Paul was talking about the women of those days."

Our survey revealed 80 per cent of women felt that their church was a place where women's voices are not stifled.

Babs says she feels appreciated within her church.

"I feel that if I say something I will be heard, I'm actually encouraged to say something in the first place and not feel timid."

Esther da Silva is the Sundays and events lead at C3 Church in Cambridge.

She says it's important to value women regardless of their relationship status.

She said: "I am married which is great but I have close friends who aren't and knowing that they can aspire to leadership in the church context as an unmarried woman I think is really important.

“As equal as are potentially feeling that our gender precludes us from leadership I think sometimes our relationship status can feel the same way.”

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