The Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) is considering altering the title restrictions at the denomination's annual General Council meeting, which is set for the end of May in Nashville. It will also be held online for those who cannot attend.
Though no decision will be enacted until 2022, the Alliance will discuss the possibility of allowing women to be titled as pastors in the future, Christianity Today reports.
The denomination does not currently ordain women but rather consecrates and licenses women for priesthood. According to Church Leaders, the rank of pastor is reserved for men, but women in CMA churches administer baptisms, weddings, funerals, hospital stays, counseling, and other services.
The Official CMA policy would authorize women to fill "Key places of leadership in the Alliance at the local church, district, and national levels" while calling themselves pastors. The two-year training and vetting process for men and women is currently the same, but men are ordained while women are consecrated—a difference in name but not in effect.
Some women who are currently consecrated to serve in the CMA say the policy reform would provide much-needed linguistic clarification. However, not everyone feels this way.
According to polls of more than 3,000 CMA members, 61 percent think women should be titled as pastors and that there should be no differentiation between the terms "Ordained" and "Consecrated." However, the majority of people think only men should be elders. And a small minority, just one out of every ten respondents, think that women already hold too much authority within the denomination.
CMA's President, John Stumbo, is backing the change in title, stating, "I believe we've been inconsistent in our documents and inappropriate in some of our policies. Any place we find that our policies limit people from ministry beyond any limit given by the Scriptures, are we not in error? I am among those who interpret the Scriptures through the lens of male-only eldership, yet I believe we've been inconsistent in our documents and inappropriate in some of our policies."
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John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Washington Gazette, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.