Women in the Christian & Missionary Alliance: Senior Pastors & Ordination

At this year’s general assembly of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada a document prepared by the Board of Directors was released entitled: “Discussion of Ordination and Licensing as it pertains to the possibility of Ordination of Women in The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada” 

The role of women in ministry within the Alliance has been a bit of a thorny one over the past couple of decades as forces within and without the denomination seek change from the practice of limiting women to a non-ordained status and keeping them outside of the role of senior pastor.

In this document most significantly the Board of Directors state that there is nothing in Alliance policy that prevents a local church board from hiring a woman as a senior pastor for the policy does not require a senior pastor to be ordained. In essence they have communicated that churches, should they wish to, may hire women as senior pastors – a decision I applaud.

While the document stops short of stating that women should be ordained the Alliance did vote to allow ordination of women –  good decision.

I am guessing only Alliance nerds will read this but that is ok…it does have broader implications within the context of women in ministry within the broader church body however and bears looking at if this is an area of interest to you.

15 thoughts on “Women in the Christian & Missionary Alliance: Senior Pastors & Ordination

  1. We attended a church of another denomination with a Lady Senior pastor. It was under her ministry that I became a Christian.


    • This is a powerful testimony. It has always been clear to me that God works through whomever (and whatever) God chooses to work through for the Glory of God. I am thankful for women in ministry and the woman through whom God was instrumental in leading you to Christ.


  2. Label me an Alliance nerd I guess – even though I attend a Baptist church. 🙂 I do have a long term Alliance Background.

    I had read the paper that mentioned senior pastors a week ago, and found it interesting. I know that the Alliance manual used to explicitly ban women from being senior pastors. I wasn’t aware of any legislation from General Assembly that changed it. Perhaps it is interpreted in a similar fashion to the elder compromise, if a church can vote to have a female elder, they could vote to have a senior pastor?

    While I would welcome female Senior Pastors in the Alliance, it seems like this transition was done underhandedly.


    • I had a nervous sense of that as well re:underhanded. It seems more like an attempt to re-interpret the regulations since the conversation as it was focused on Biblical interpretation seemed to have reached an egalitarian/complimentarian impasse over the years. It will be interesting to learn to what degree Alliance congregations will be made aware of the new ordination position and women as senior pastors.


      • I think the ordination status will be broad disseminated as everyone was at assembly when it occurred. The senior pastor question is another issue. Me thinks I will take a look at the local church constitution. My guess is that it either doesn’t now, or perhaps never did specify the gender.


      • So… here is the only thing in the local church constitution which could be interpreted as being gender specific:

        “Upon his appointment by the District Superintendent, the Senior Pastor and his wife become members of the church.”

        Contrast this with the text for Pastors (other than senior) and Licensed Workers:

        “Upon appointment, the licensed worker and spouse become members of the church.”

        It is clear that one is gender specific and the other is not. The difference would imply intentionality, although each statement taken on its own could be interpreted more broadly.


      • I agree that the gender specific language was likely intentional. I hope the C&MA intentionally markets this as it is a significant decision and a good one in my opinion all comments on process aside. I see nothing on the front of the website as yet.


  3. I marvel how easily we ignore the Holy Scriptures all the while claiming they are our source of light and authority. Once we fall prey to “did God really say?”, the next will be no-fault divorce & remarriage (after all there is nothing sanctified in the offices of the Church, right?), next it will be receiving homosexuals and lesbians as leaders, then what, gender confused and polygamists, then of course we must accept beastiality. The slope is very slippery, but God’s Word never changes, no matter what the culture and how it changes. His Truth is a rock! I choose to believe and trust Him.


      • Sir, I am in agreement with Chris. As I have researched various mainline denominations, the first error that is made is to allow woman to be in authority over men. The second doctrinal error becomes allowing homosexuals to be members and hold office and then become pastors and then become bishops etc. etc.

        The problem is when you begin to interpret the Scriptures incorrectly (women in authority over man) the errors begin to snowball down the hill right into heresy, or should I say hades?


      • Thank you for your comment.

        I would like to stress that I believe it is possible to see Scripture as inerrant and inspired AND allow for women in leadership without being contradictory…I believe this requires a redemptive hermeneutic and a better understanding of the word “literal” (see N.T. Wirght).

        As to when we “begin” to interpret incorrectly. It is the human condition – we will never fully or correctly interpret scripture. This is what keeps us coming back to it and engaging with God.

        Not matter the outcome of these disagreements my prayer is that both sides exercise grace, forgiveness and empathy.



  4. Cantelon, will you perhaps write about what is your position using redemptive hermeneutics (if you don’t mind my asking so) on ordination of homosexuals?


  5. I too have to agree with Chris. Having been in the pastoral ministry for 25 years, and a number of those as a CMA pastor, we saw this coming many many years ago. We have deceived ourselves into thinking that truth can be fluid & cultural. While the spirit of truth is central, the body of truth transcends cultures and rests in the fact that the One who is the truth, the life and the way is LORD. All authority has been given to Him. As for me, I also choose to listen to Him, believe what His Word says and trust His wisdom for laying it out clearly.
    Cantelon, you say ” I believe it is possible to see Scripture as inerrant and inspired AND allow for women in leadership without being contradictory…I believe this requires a redemptive hermeneutic and a better understanding of the word “literal”.”
    Sir, with all do respect, that is plain and simply political spinning and hog wash. On this point alone, people who know the Shepherds voice should have hackles raising up the back of their necks.
    Cheers to you as well.


  6. I also have had a long history with the Alliance Church but now go to a Baptist church, not because of the gender issue specifically but due to the sustained psychological and emotional abuse I received while at the Alliance.

    People could look at the exegesis of the gender debate as found on the CBE International website. I found Kevin Giles essays to be worthwhile.


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