In January, the MTW Committee adopted a “Statement on Valuing Women in MTW.” The statement begins by affirming that women disciples are made in the image of God, co-heirs of the kingdom and co-laborers in gospel work, gifted by the Spirit and called to use those gifts in building up the church and extending the kingdom in the world. It goes on to say that MTW is committed to supporting and equipping women in the use of their gifts.
The introductory portion of the statement closes with this paragraph: “In keeping with this statement, we affirm that women may serve in leadership roles within MTW, recognizing that only ordained elders exercise ecclesiastical authority over church plants or churches.”
While affirming that the intentions of this statement are commendable, Heritage Presbytery finds problematic the guidelines developed from this statement that initiate a policy allowing women in MTW to serve in authority over men in the roles of team leader, regional director, and international director. In Overture 41, they propose that General Assembly direct MTW to amend the guidelines so that only ordained elders be allowed to serve in the roles of team leader, regional director, and international director.
Rick Gray, RUF Campus Minister for International students at the University of Delaware and author of the overture, said the overture was written in response to some career missionaries who stated that the new guidelines created a crisis of conscience for them. These missionaries appealed to Heritage for help in addressing the issue, he says. The presbytery decided it would be in the best interests of the men and women serving with MTW for the positions of team leader, regional director, and international director to be limited to elders.
“Our overture is necessary”, Gray says, “because a significant responsibility of those serving in these positions requires them to provide spiritual care and oversight for the missionaries under them.”
The overture has been referred to the Mission to the World Committee for recommendation