After five years of wrangling with the issue, The Vineyard USA has officially adopted a policy that opens the door of leadership to women in every office, including that of senior pastor.
After five years of wrangling with the issue of precisely where women fit
into the ministry of the local church and the denomination, The Vineyard USA has
officially adopted a policy that opens the door of leadership to women in every
office, including that of senior pastor.
The Vineyard’s governing board met last month and adopted a statement that is
a unambiguously egalitarian in its inclusion of women at every level of
leadership. It also makes clear that local churches, as autonomous bodies, are
free to dissent from the denominational position.
The two-paragraph statement reads:
“In response to the message of the kingdom, the leadership of the Vineyard
movement will encourage, train, and empower women at all levels of leadership
both local and trans-local. The movement as a whole welcomes the participation
of women in leadership in all areas of ministry.
“We also recognize and understand that some Vineyard pastors have a different
understanding of the scriptures. Each local church retains the right to make its
own decisions regarding ordination and appointment of senior pastors.”
The position was announced in an open letter to Vineyard pastors on the
denomination’s website by National Director Berten A. Waggoner. The letter
details Vineyard leadership’s five-year investigation of the leadership and
expresses empathy for the many voices within the denomination that openly oppose
the ordination of women and hold an overall complementarian view of women in the
The Vineyard includes churches with female pastors and in the end, the need
for those and other women to be affirmed in their calling won the day, Waggoner
In the letter, Waggoner gives five reasons why the issue has needed a
definitive answer within The Vineyard. One reason was that several women had
expressed to Waggoner that they felt like “unwanted step children” because they
were not “empowered” in ministry.
Waggoner admits that he and the board members have struggled with the issue,
but Waggoner says he has leaned toward the decision of full empowerment of women
because he sees it as the responsibility of national leadership to do so.
“…many Board members felt conflicted on the issue,” he writes. “On the one
hand they believed that women should be empowered to do ministry at all levels.
On the other, they did not want to be offensive to those who believed
“I personally felt this. I believed, and continue to believe, that the Lord
placed me as the National Director to lead the movement at this time. I also
believe strongly that, though I have great respect for those who disagree with
me, some women are called and gifted to provide leadership at both the local and
trans-local levels of the church. To refuse to do this violated my convictions.
“I was responsible to empower, but I was not intentionally doing it. If I did
not have the responsibility to empower, then my conscience could be clear before
God and others. But if I had that responsibility, it became a violation of
conscience. Both the Board and I had that responsibility and we were
The letter from Waggoner is available in its entirety at www.vineyardusa.org.
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