Dear USMB Church,

In January 2019, USMB Board of Faith and Life hosted a Study Conference on the issue of Women in Pastoral Ministry as a means of helping our constituent churches talk to one another and explore the issue of how God has called, equipped and released women into ministry, specifically, pastoral ministry. As a family of churches, we have grappled with that question a number of times in the past, always with a tension between allowing women complete freedom to serve or restricting them from the Lead Pastor role. Biblically based arguments have been made which support both positions.

At our November 6th, 2019 USMB BFL meeting we adopted the following statement:

Following the January, 2019 Phoenix study conference, USBFL has continued to listen, prayerfully discerning a recommended best path forward for our national family. Most of our USMB churches support the current policy on women in pastoral ministry. USBFL believes that the 1999 Resolution and the resulting USBFL Policy on credentialing continue to reflect our best attempt at Christ-honoring unity around an issue where we have not reached consensus.

We call all our churches to affirm, bless and encourage our sisters to serve Christ and his Church, as expressed in the 1999 resolution.

USBFL will continue our current practice – that questions from local churches should be processed first by the District BFL and then may be brought to US BFL for counsel. 

We are recommending that we continue that policy for the foreseeable future with a continued focus on the call that the 1999 resolution, adopted at the 1999 General Conference Convention held at First MB Church, Wichita KS, gives us. It states:


That women be encouraged to minister in the church in every function other than the lead pastorate. The church is to invite women to exercise leadership on Conference boards, in pastoral staff positions and in our congregations, institutions, and agencies. We ask women to minister as gifted, called and affirmed. We call the church to be increasingly alert to the gifts of women and to become more active in calling them to minister. We further call people in the Spirit of Christ to relate to one another in mutual respect as brothers and sisters in Christ.

USBFL recognizes that this recommendation will be met with pain on the part of a significant number of people. It is without question that there would be pain in any decision made by USBFL on this matter. We grieve that pain and know it will have a significant effect on women and men who are part of our family.

We affirm those churches and districts that have communicated to us that they have not always lived up to the standard set by the 1999 resolution and want to make efforts to increase their affirmation of women in ministry roles within the church. We call on all of our churches to have integrity with this and to do the work necessary to increase the opportunities for women to serve and partner with men to the glory of God and the service of Christ and his kingdom.

We also do not believe that this is necessarily the final chapter in this conversation. We want to continue to be open to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives to transform us and our churches, and to lead us into God-honoring decisions on the issues where we have not reached consensus.

May God give us all grace to serve and to honor one another for the sake of the kingdom of Christ.

Tim Sullivan
For the USMB Board of Faith and Life


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