Women who feel called to pastoral ministry are being encouraged to apply for a South Pacific Division (SPD) scholarship.
The SPD Women in Ministry Scholarship Fund, administered by the SPD ministerial department, is offering financial assistance to women wishing to enrol or who are currently enrolled in ministerial/theological training at Adventist institutions of higher education within the Division. It is aimed at affirming and encouraging women across the entire Division to undertake a study program that would equip them for effective full-time ministry.
Currently, while over 55 per cent of members across the SPD are female, just 7 per cent of pastors in the SPD are women.
“If we truly believe that both men and women were created in the image of God, and that both men and women reflect the image of God, however imperfectly, then the perspectives of both men and women are needed for the task of reflecting the love and grace of God to a world in need of knowing Him,” said SPD associate ministerial secretary Dr Edyta Jankiewicz.
The SPD is following in the footsteps of the Australian Union Conference (AUC), which introduced a Scholarship for AUC Women in Pastoral Ministry last year.
“We are excited about the quality of applicants that have come through this first round and were delighted to be able to award five scholarships this year,” said Pastor Lyndelle Peterson, associate ministerial secretary and director of Sabbath school and stewardship at the AUC.
“I’ve personally been encouraged hearing the stories of these women as they faithfully follow the calling God has placed on their life and look forward to seeing how God will use them for ministry as they complete their studies, graduate and go on to serve in our local churches.”
Senior church leaders have affirmed their commitment to seeing more women involved in pastoral ministry.
“God calls both men and women to ministry,” said SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend. “It is because of what God does that the church needs to respond and support the women who hear God’s call. Women have unique pastoral gifts and with over half of the membership in the SPD being women, having other women in pastoral leadership to support them is important. They can minister in ways that men cannot.”
New Zealand Pacific Union Conference president Pastor Eddie Tupai said the perspective and voice of women in ministry is critical for communicating the fullness of God’s image and character.
“It is still a missing, muted and devalued contribution that requires intentionality on the part of leadership that is predominantly male. The church and community will be blessed abundantly by such a simple yet significant shift.”
AUC president Pastor Terry Johnson said pastoring is often associated with men because the pastors we have traditionally seen are men.
“We are shaped by what we see and experience,” he said. “When women are given opportunities to be effective soul-winning pastors, with the unique purpose of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and wonderful grace-based end-time message, they model that the spiritual gifts of shepherding, leadership, evangelism, teaching, administration (amongst the rest) are open to all because ministry equals service and God calls all to serve.”
According to SPD field/ministerial leader Dr Darius Jankiewicz, a lack of women’s involvement in ministry impedes fulfilling God’s mission. “The means of accomplishing the great commission are the spiritual gifts given to believers at the discretion of the Holy Spirit, regardless of their gender,” he said. “These spiritual gifts are foundational to the Protestant teaching on the priesthood of all believers—that all believers contribute to fulfilling God’s mission in the world.”
You’ll find more information on the SPD Women in Ministry Scholarship Fund and how to apply for a scholarship here.