AN HISTORICAL SURVEY ON WOMEN IN MINISTRY.
TO A CONFERENCE WHICH REFUSES WOMEN THE RIGHT TO MINISTER IN PUBLIC.
A few years ago, a broadcast acquaintance of mine, Father John Fleming, one of Adelaide’s best-known clergy, resigned as a leading priest in the Anglican Church, to become a Roman Catholic Priest. His primary reason was to demonstrate his total opposition to the movement in the Anglican Church to ordain women as priests. As you know this issue is not confined to the Anglican and Catholic denominations, but to Orthodox and some Protestant denominations such as Brethren and some Baptist Churches as well.
The opposition to women holding positions as leaders, elders, and ministers in some churches is obsessional. Yet, in growing churches round the world, women seem to be having a greater role in preaching, pastoring, teaching, hospitality, stewardship and leadership than ever before, except, perhaps, in the time of Paul.
Retiring after fifty years of ministry, I now preach by invitation to all Christian denominations across our country. Everywhere I go I find significant numbers of women being ordained into the Christian ministry. Many, like the Salvation Army and most Pentecostal Denominations ordain both husband and wife as a clergy couple. The Uniting Church and many Independent Churches officially refer to them as “Clergy Couples” and pay double stipends as for two ministers.
For advocates there are still not enough of them, but some denominations are still making no moves towards ordaining women. For some it has become a test case of whether a person is obedient to the commands of the scriptures or not.
1. The Ministry of Women in the Church over the Centuries.
Most denominations agree that women are allowed to minister, but there is confusion and disagreement on what is included in the description of “ministry”.
There is dispute among some on whether women are allowed to teach in church at all, and some on whether they are allowed to teach both men and women. There is dispute on whether women are allowed to be in positions of leadership and if so, whether that includes the office of pastor, priest, or bishop. Some denominations (e.g. Anglicans in USA and Africa) have opposing views in different parts of the world.
There are three widely held views:
I. The traditional or Complementarian View: Men and women are equal in dignity and worth, though women are subordinate to their husbands and barred from holding offices in the church of leadership over men. This is the view of most conservative evangelicals and Roman Catholics.
II. The Egalitarian View: Men and women should be regarded as equals in authority in the home and given equal access to all positions of leadership in the church. This is held by some evangelicals.
III. The Total Equality view: The Bible is heavily patriarchal in the Old Testament and contains traces of patriarchalism in the New Testament, but overall the Bible points to and moves toward an egalitarian view. This is held by some liberal and neo-evangelical theologians.
According to Richard Riss in his study A Brief History of Women in Ministry, “During the first century, many women were active in Christian ministry. Acts 21:9 mentions the four virgin daughters of Philip, the evangelist, as prophetesses who lived in his home at Caesarea, where Paul and his associates visited during his third missionary journey.”
Priscilla, or Prisca, and her husband Aquila, were known as fellow-labourers in Christ with the apostle Paul. Their expertise as teachers enabled them to explain the way of God more accurately to Apollos of Alexandria, another important leader of the early church (Acts 18:25-26).
Another associate of Paul’s, Lydia, a seller of purple dye, opened her home for ministry (Acts 16:40), as did many other Christian women in the Roman Empire, including the “elect lady” to whom John addressed his second epistle. Close examination of II John would suggest that she was functioning in a pastoral capacity, as would also have been the case for Lydia (Acts 16:40), Nympha (Col. 4:15), and Chloe (I Cor. 1:11).
Phoebe was a leader of the Church at Cenchrea. In Romans 16: 1, 2, Paul commanded the members of the church at Rome to receive her as such, and to help her in whatever manner she requested. Paul also mentions that Andronicus and Junia were outstanding among the apostles (Romans 16:7), and there is little doubt that Junia was a feminine name.
Both John Chrysostom and Jerome made reference to her as a woman apostle, and no commentator referred to her as a man until the late thirteenth century. In the early fourth century, Catherine of Alexandria defended the faith at Alexandria before philosophers and courtiers, before she was tortured to death by Maxentius, the son of the Roman Emperor Maximian.
At about the same time, Dorothy of Caesarea in Cappadocia was martyred (A.D. 313). As she was being led to her execution, Theophilus, a lawyer, taunted her but as a result of her witness became a Christian and later gave his own life as a martyr.
Macrina the Younger (328-380) was founder of a religious community for women in the Eastern Church. With her brothers, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, she was a pioneer in the monastic life. She healed, prophesied, and actively spread the faith.
Marcella (325-410) was an important teacher in the early church who was highly esteemed by Jerome. She was in the front lines in interacting with heretics and bringing them to a better understanding of Christian truth. When a dispute arose in Rome concerning the meaning of the Scriptures, Jerome asked Marcella to settle it.
Another woman, Fabiola, received inspiration to establish the first hospitals in Rome. Two women assisted Jerome in his Latin translation of the Bible. They went to Bethlehem in order to aid him in this work, revising and correcting his translations and making new Latin translations from the Hebrew and Greek texts.
Genevieve (422-500) lived in Paris when Attila and his Huns invaded France in 451. She assured the inhabitants of Paris that God would protect them if they would pray. While the men prepared for battle, she persuaded the women to pray for hours in the church. Then, after Attila destroyed Orleans, he decided not to touch Paris. At a later time, she was said to have averted a famine in Paris and the surrounding cities by distributing miraculous gifts of bread.
Bridget (455-523), so inspired the convent system that made an indelible impact upon life in Ireland that she became known as the “mother abbess” of all of Ireland.
Theodora I (500-548), wife of the emperor Justinian, was an important and influential Christian. The inscription “Theodora Episcopa” or “Theodora, Bishop (fem.)” in a mosaic at the Basilica of Sts. Prudentia and Praexedis in Rome, may have been a reference to the Empress.
Hilda (614-680) was appointed by Aidan as abbess of the convent in County Durham in 649. Ten years later, she founded a double monastery for men and women at Whitby in Yorkshire, which became world famous as a school of theology and literature. Five of her disciples became bishops.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) a German abbess, mystic, and writer, was known throughout all of Europe. Skilled in subjects as diverse as theology, medicine and politics, she did not hesitate to rebuke the sins of the greatest men of her time in both Church and state. Many miracles were attributed to her during her lifetime.
Clare (1193-1253) was co-founder, with Francis of Assisi, of the Poor Clares, a mendicant order which spread rapidly through Italy and into France, Germany, and Spain.
Some other significant women of the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries included Mechthild of Magdeburg, Gertrude the Great, Angela of Foligno, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Sienna, Catherine of Sweden, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Joan of Arc, Catherine of Genoa, Isabella of Castile, and Margaret Beaufort.
During the Reformation a member of the Bavarian nobility, Argula von Grumbach (1492-1563), challenged the Rector and the entire faculty of the University of Ingolstadt to a debate in which she would defend the principles of the Protestant Reformation. She offered to base this debate upon a translation of the Bible published prior to the outbreak of the Reformation.
She was permitted to present her position in 1523 in Nuremberg before the diet of the Empire. Martin Luther wrote of her, “that most noble woman, Argula von Grumbach, is there making a valiant fight with great spirit, boldness of speech and knowledge of Christ.” Her extensive education and fine critical abilities enabled her to become a force to be reckoned with. She conducted church meetings in her home and officiated at funerals.
Two other important female leaders of the Protestant Reformation were Margaret of Navarre (1492-1549) and her daughter, Jeanne d’Albret (1528-1572), the grandmother and mother of King Henry IV of France who issued the Edict of Nantes, granting religious toleration to the French Protestants for almost a century.
Jeanne d’Albret held services of the new Reformed faith in her palace apartment. A friend of John Calvin, she also used her palace as an institute for Reformation study.
During the Puritan era, Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), became influential in Boston, and opened her home to large classes of women. It is estimated that as many as eighty overflowed to the doorsteps of her house, at a time when Boston had a population of roughly 1,000 people.
These meetings grew rapidly, and soon men also began to attend. Among her loyal followers was Henry Vane, who served for a short time as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Within two years of her arrival from England she had the strongest constituency of any leader in the entire colony. Her large following, coupled with her strong exegetical and homiletical skills, deep Christian commitment and insightful understanding of spiritual truths may have incurred the jealousy of several New England ministers. They eventually became uncomfortable enough with her successes that she was accused of heresy and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638.
Margaret Fell (1614-1702), the mother of Quakerism, was an English peeress and wife of Judge Thomas Fell, member of the Long Parliament and Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster. Her home was a place of refuge and renewal for persecuted Quakers for almost fifty years. She was arrested for holding Quaker meetings in her home, Swarthmore Hall, and imprisoned for four years. After her release from prison, she visited Quakers in jails and travelled on horseback with her daughters and servants to remote farms and villages as an itinerant preacher. Many people sought wisdom and advice from her, including Thomas Salthouse, and, of course, George Fox, who married her a number of years after the death of her first husband. Because she had his blessing in her preaching ministry, she wrote many tracts and letters on the subject of women in ministry.
Madame Guyon (1648-1717) was a French mystic who was imprisoned on several occasions for long periods of time because of her beliefs, but she was never known to complain about this. An author of forty books, including a twenty-volume commentary on the Bible, she had a wide following, particularly in France and Switzerland. Among those profoundly influenced by her ministry was Archbishop Francois Fenelon.
A leader of Methodist congregations in England, Lady Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon (1707-1791), founder of the Calvinistic Methodist denomination during the Evangelical Awakening, functioned as a bishop. She did this by virtue of her right as a peeress to appoint Anglican clergymen as household chaplains and to assign their duties, and to purchase presentation rights to chapels, thereby enabling her to decide who would conduct services and preach.
Among the many chaplains whom she appointed and continued to finance for many decades was George Whitefield. By 1779, sixty chapels were functioning under her auspices. Under the Toleration Act, she registered her chapels as dissenting places of worship, known as “The Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion.” Lady Selina frequently invited members of the aristocracy to her home to hear the preaching of the Wesleys, Whitefield, Isaac Watts, Philip Doddridge, Benjamin Ingham, John Fletcher, John Berridge, William Romaine, Henry Venn, and others. She founded Trevecca House on property adjoining the home of Howell Harris as a seminary for the training of ministers for all denominations.
In America, two important preachers during the first years of the Second Awakening (1800-1808) were Deborah Peirce of Paris, N.Y. and Martha Howell of Utica. Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874), “The Mother of the Holiness Movement”, began her ministry in 1835 with her Tuesday Meetings for the Promotion of Holiness, which continued for 39 years in New York City, where she lived with her physician husband.
Hundreds of Methodist preachers, including at least five bishops, were profoundly affected by her ministry. The success of Phoebe Palmer’s informal meetings encouraged other women to conduct the same type of ministry, and dozens of them sprang up throughout North America.
These meetings brought together Christians of many denominations under the leadership of women, particularly among Methodists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Baptists, and Quakers. She travelled widely with her husband, conducting evangelistic meetings during the summer months.
She preached with great success in New York City and in England, to packed houses at Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, and dozens of other places for four years. It is estimated that within her lifetime Phoebe Palmer brought over 25,000 people to faith in Christ.
Catherine Booth (1829-1890), with her husband, William Booth, founded the Christian Revival Association in 1865 and the Salvation Army in 1878. The Booths regarded the active participation of women to be vital to Christianity. Before 1865, when they were still Methodists, Catherine began preaching.
Soon after her pulpit debut, her husband became ill, and his slow recovery paved the way for her own preaching ministry. For a time, he was so ill that she had to take over his entire preaching circuit. She eventually became one of the most famous female preachers of England, and her last sermon was delivered to an audience of 50,000 people.
Hannah Whitall Smith founded the preaching ministry of the Keswick Convention in 1874.
Carrie Judd Montgomery was a healing evangelist of considerable prominence beginning in 1879, and became a founding member, along with A. B. Simpson, of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1887. She later became a part of the Pentecostal revival and was ordained a minister by the Assemblies of God in 1917, continuing in ministry until 1946.
Maria B. Woodworth-Etter was also involved in the Holiness movement before she rose to prominence as an early Pentecostal leader. Her meetings received national press coverage, and in the late 1880s she started twelve churches, added 1,000 members, erected six church buildings, and started several Sunday Schools.
A score of other female Pentecostal preachers established churches throughout USA and Canada. One of these was Aimee Semple McPherson who began a preaching ministry in 1915 beginning in Toronto and then along the U.S. eastern seaboard, and across the United States in 1918. She eventually founded Angelus Temple in 1923, where she continued as senior pastor until her death in 1944.
Kathryn Kuhlman’s ministry began in the summer of 1923. After her ordination by the Evangelical Church Alliance she thrived as a preacher and radio evangelist, gaining a reputation as one of the world’s outstanding healing evangelists, carrying on as a leading figure during the charismatic movement until her death in 1976. Others with worldwide ministry include Ruth Carter Stapleton, Jean Stone, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Corrie Ten Boom.
The significance of this leadership of women in the church today I call “The Philippi Principle” after the leadership given by women in the church at Philippi, under the leadership of St Paul. Philippi was founded by the King of Macedon, Philip II, near the head of the Aegean Sea about 8 miles north-west of the modern port city of Kavalla.
Philip established it to control the route which crosses Macedonia from the east to the west and which was reconstructed later by the Roman Empire as the Via Egnatia. The city is mentioned in the events that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar.
His heirs Mark Antony and Octavian confronted the assassins of Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus and Cassius, at the Battle of Philippi in the plain to the west of the city in October, 42 BC. Antony and Octavian were victorious in this final battle against the partisans of the Republic.
The forum, laid out in two terraces on both sides of the main road, was constructed in several phases between the reigns of Claudius and Antoninus Pius, and the theatre was enlarged and expanded in order to hold Roman games.
There is an abundance of Latin inscriptions testifying to the prosperity of the city. As I walked down the Via Egnatia, my early years of translating Latin was in much demand as inscriptions are in abundance.
In AD 49 or 50, the city was visited by the apostle Paul who was guided there by a vision (Acts 16:9-10). Accompanied by Silas, Timothy and possibly Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, he preached for the first time on European soil in Philippi (Acts 16:12-40) and baptised Lydia, the purple dye merchant, in a river to the west of the city.
While in Philippi, his exorcism of a demon from a slave girl caused a great uproar in the city, which led to Paul and Silas being arrested, beaten and imprisioned. (Acts 16:16-24). An earthquake caused their prison to be opened. When the jailer awoke, he prepared to kill himself, thinking all the prisoners had escaped and knowing that he would be severely punished. Paul stopped him, indicating that all the prisoners were in fact still there.
The jailer then became one of the first Christians in Europe (Acts 16:25-40). At this time, there was barely a Jewish community, and no synagogue (Acts 16:13). Those Jews present did not seem to include any men and met by the river, a common meeting place in the absence of a synagogue.
Paul visited the city on two other occasions, in 56 and 57AD. The Epistle to the Philippians dates from around 61-62 AD and shows the immediate impact of Paul’s instruction. The subsequent development of Christianity in Philippi is well-attested, notably by a letter from Polycarp of Smyrna addressed to the community in Philippi around 160.
The first church attested in the city is a small building that was probably originally a small prayer house. This Basilica of Paul, identified by a mosaic inscription on the pavement, is dated around 343 from a mention by the bishop Porphyrios.
From the Acts of the Apostles(Acts 16:12) and the letter to the Philippians (Philippians 1:1), early Christians concluded that Paul had founded their community. Seven different churches were constructed in Philippi between the mid-4th century and the end of the 6th, some of which competed in size and decoration with the most beautiful buildings in Thessalonica, or even those of Constantinople. The cathedral which was built at the end of the 5th century, is constructed around an octagonal church.
As already stated, the significance of the leadership of women in the church today I call “The Philippi Principle” after the leadership given by women in the church at Philippi, under the leadership of St Paul.
2. The Women in the Ministry of Paul.
Paul is usually attacked by feminists, who do not know their scriptures. Our Lord Jesus lifted women to the highest level in the ancient world. He spoke to women as people of intelligence, and treated them as responsible leaders even encouraging as the first evangelist a converted woman. (John 4:39-42)
His example was followed by Paul who was the great emancipator within the religious world. He constantly encouraged and equipped women for ministry. Some twenty women who worked alongside Paul are named in his letters, and the Acts of the Apostles.
Priscilla was the best known, being mentioned six times. With her husband Aquila, she ministered in Rome, Corinth and Ephesus. She is usually mentioned first. She corrected another teacher from Egypt, Apollos, by teaching him the fullness of the Gospel. They led a home church in each centre.
Damaris, a woman of some significance, was converted in Athens. The four daughters of Philip, at Caesarea, like their father who had evangelized the Ethiopian on the Gaza Road, became evangelists prophesying, the word usually meaning “preaching”. (Acts 21:9).
Phoebe was called by a ministry title, the same as that given to Timothy the minister. She had a ministry among the poor, which was probably a ministry both of word and deed. At Cenchreae, Phoebe’s leadership ministry was described by Paul in the same word as he described his own ministry, and which was obviously much more than the old translation of “deaconess”.
Mary and Persis, and the twins, Tryphena and Tryphosa, were four women in the church at Rome whom Paul described as working “very hard in the Lord”. What kind of work? The most common was evangelism and pastoral care. Were they evangelists and pastors?
Junia, who with Andronicus (a friend or perhaps her husband), were Christians before Paul was, and well known to the Apostles.
Chloe’s household in Corinth were well known to the Christians in Ephesus who recognised her leadership in Greece.
Paul also greeted by name many others, some of whom had believers with them in each house, possibly being the overseer or elder to a group of Christians in a home church, as did Nympha who had a church in her house at Colossae. Claudia was serving with other believers, as was Apphia, possibly as evangelists.
At Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche, were described as “fellow workers” alongside Paul and Clement, a title he reserved for younger ministers like Timothy, Epaphroditus, Titus, Luke, Demas, Philemon and Aristarcus, all being teachers and pastors.
The Church was started at Philippi following the conversion of Lydia, a businesswoman who worshipped God with others by a river. She provided hospitality in her home to the missionaries, and her home became the centre for the new church following the baptism of her whole household. She was a wealthy businesswoman trading in expensive cloth from Turkey, and later, along with the believers in Philippi sent Paul money and provisions while he was imprisoned.
Paul had certainly told the troublesome church in Corinth that women should keep silent in the churches, being subordinate and asking their husbands at home as the Jewish Law required of them (1 Cor 14:33 35), neither were they to teach men, as he wrote to Timothy. But was this an order covering all places? What of women without husbands?
What of those Christians like many already mentioned who were not Jews under the Law? How could gentile women be subject to Jewish Law, something Paul argued about vigorously?
In one church, the most troublesome of the New Testament period, Paul told the women to conform to the Jewish law concerning separation, submission and silence (1 Cor. 14: 34 35). That was the Jewish custom. I assume that in Jerusalem he would also take that view. But in all others Rome, Athens, Thessalonica, Berea, Cenchreae, Philippi, Ephesus, Colossae, Lystra, Derbe and so on, there were no restrictions but many examples of positive encouragement to women.
Paul’s teaching about women observing the custom of having their hair covered when praying or preaching in public has led to countless discussions about women wearing hats in church. Paul said it was a matter he left up to the Corinthians to decide for themselves. Most have missed the main point: it was not a restriction upon worshippers, but upon women who were leading in prayers and proclamation. (1 Cor. 11:1 16) Those women were leading worship, praying and proclaiming Christ in public.
In brief, Paul liberated women into leadership roles with the one exception of the Jewish church still under the Jewish Law, and this strange church at Corinth where there was so much trouble. Perhaps in his judgment, they were not ready for liberation, and obedience to the old Jewish Law would lead to greater harmony.
Much of the hostility against women in position of leadership in the church today is due to our Western culture. Paul was far ahead of those modern believers. Consider his first European visit.
3. The Women at Philippi.
Paul, Silas and Timothy, together with a young man who had come over from Macedonia to speak to them, crossed from Turkey to Greece, being led by the Holy Spirit to commence a work in Europe. The new man was Dr Luke, who was to travel with Paul, and write an account of Jesus, The Gospel of Luke, and the account of the spread of the young church called the Acts of the Apostles.
The first convert in all of Europe was a Turkish businesswoman. (Acts 16). Paul went out of Philippi to the city gate by the River, where a group of women gathered for prayers. He preached earnestly the Gospel to them, and many responded. Lydia was baptised, with her whole household in the River Gangites by the town gate, a spot that can be easily identified today.
She was to provide hospitality in her home for the missionaries, provided money for the on going work, became the leader or elder in the home church established after all her household servants probably rather than children believed and were baptised, and played a significant leadership role in the rapidly growing church in Philippi.
They were joined by other believers, a converted slave girl, the Roman jailer and his family, and Euodia and Syntyche, who became fellow workers with Paul. Paul loved this church the most.
At Philippi then, we have women, taking significant leadership roles in the church. They were responsible for at least some of the pastoring, teaching, hospitality, stewardship, and leadership. No man is mentioned as a local leader, elder or minister. Paul sent Timothy on a visit there, and they were to send a man from the congregation, Epaphroditus, to stay with Paul as a helper for him.
I believe beyond doubt, that the example of Paul in converting, equipping, and entrusting women with leadership in the newly established churches, was the fulfilment of his expressed belief that in Christ male and female were treated as one.
The Jewish church could not accept that, and in other parts of the Empire that was socially unacceptable, and in Corinth it was undesirable at the time, but for the rest of Greece, Turkey and in Italy, the young church grew under strong leadership from women. I believe that pattern is to be one of the principles we must follow today as we seek to live successfully in our city.
4. The Role of Women in the Church Today.
Some churches still limit women to the traditional roles of silence, subjection and submission. Women can arrange flowers, serve tea and attend prayer meetings. The Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church are steadfastly opposed to the ordination of women priests, and insist priests should be male, celibate and single.
The Anglican Church of Australia is divided over the issue. The Baptist Church gives women little leadership opportunities, but the Salvation Army has women Officers and has had women Generals. Churches of Christ have had women ministers for 100 years although some churches will not have women elders. The Uniting Church has women ministers and has elected women moderators, although no women Presidents.
In my four ministries over fifty years I have always had women involved in full leadership positions. During 27 years leading Wesley Mission Sydney, congregations hade women ministers, women elders, women stewards, and women staff. Most elders and parish counsellors and most of the four thousand employed staff were women. One imbalance lay in having more women than men among middle management, and more men than women among senior management. That problem which is common to all large Australian enterprises.
Probably Wesley Mission Sydney had women in leadership positions in about the same proportion as the early church: 90 leaders are mentioned by name in the New Testament and 20 are women.
The lack of Christian women leaders in the past is a reflection of the unavailability of training for female personnel at senior level. During my ministry, I sought to rectify that by running mentoring programs for younger women, basic management training for all women, and by sending suitable women to the Administrative Staff College in Victoria for advanced management training, and by having an open employment policy. In the Parish Council committees we encouraged women to stand in every election for every position, and actively appointed others.
That is because I believe in The Philippi Principle encouraging and equipping women for the ministry of Christ.
5. Called to Minister.
Some churches today have really found that the Philippi Principle has helped their growth. The largest Church in the world, in Korea, has over 10,000 women pastors working as elders in voluntary pastoral leadership positions, visiting people, leading prayer meetings and house witnessing. As can be seen by the roll call above, the church today is growing greatly where women are involved in leadership.
Jesus Christ calls us all to follow Him, to grow in faith, to develop spiritual gifts and use them in the growth of His church.
We need women to hear the Gospel: will you invite women to your Gospel services where they can commit their lives to Jesus Christ?
We need women to study the word of God: will you invite them to your study groups at home or in our Centre?
We need women to discover their spiritual gifts and develop them: will you help women find their gifts and use them?
We need women to take positions of leadership in the church: will you encourage women to stand for office and serve Christ?
We need women dedicated to Christ and His church: will you dedicate yourself as a woman to serving alongside us?
Over the centuries, women have played a significant role in the Christian Church. Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Fry, Francis Willard, Ellen Grace White, Mary Baker Eddy, women as Sunday School teachers, overseas missionaries, nurses, teachers, and as nuns, Mission Sisters of the Poor, and Deaconesses.
Jesus always respected women and many were attracted to His teaching. Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of James and John. A woman was first at His cradle and last at His cross. A woman of Samaria was the first witness to the Gospel, and a woman in the garden of Joseph of Aramathea was the first witness to the resurrection of Christ. And Jesus still needs women to serve His cause.
Would you check your own reasons as to why you are holding them back?