Review by Cherie Bright
As a community, the Mennonite Brethren believe that Scripture is to be interpreted together. But what happens when the community sincerely comes to very different conclusions?
Issues of power easily lead to misunderstanding and division. Women in Ministry Leadership, by Doug Heidebrecht (PhD, Wales), tells of the journey of the Mennonite Brethren as they together worked to discern the role of women in the church over nearly 60 years (1954–2010). It tells how the community chose and still chooses to wrestle together despite the divisive and often emotionally charged debate.
Heidebrecht leads readers on this journey through decades of wrestling. Conference convention proceedings, study conferences, meetings, letters, and books are all woven together into an engaging story. As Heidebrecht digs deeply into the story, his insight, compassion, and criticism toward both sides call the MB church to learn from the strengths and failings of this community’s recent past.
By telling this larger story, this book resonates with numerous unshared stories across North America.
Growing up, I heard many conversations where my own communities begged God for more men to step into lay leadership positions when God had already given the needed gifts to women within the community. It devalued the variety of spiritual gifts that are given to both men and women – stretching both sexes to take on roles that were a tough fit.
Women in Ministry Leadership brings readers to see the true grit of community hermeneutics. It stretches the church to call and empower all believers into serving Christ as they are gifted.
As a woman in pastoral ministry, I am sincerely grateful that this story is being told, for we are still on this road of discernment.
is the worship and women’s pastor at Living Word Temple, an MB church in Winnipeg