Women in Ministry

Women in ministry

Portland Seminary welcomes women into all of its degree programs and is dedicated to the training and formation of all students without regard to gender.

We believe that both female and male leaders are equal in authority and both are vital for fulfilling the nature and mission of the Church; if one group is absent, God’s mission suffers.

Biblical basis for women in ministry

We note three types of biblical evidence for affirming that the Holy Spirit continues to gift both women and men in all aspects of leadership, eldership, and service in the Christian Church:

  • Identity: Male and female are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and for partnership (Genesis 2:18).
  • Holy Spirit gifting: The New Testament emphasizes that every Christian is gifted by the Holy Spirit for building up the body of Christ and for service in the world (see 1 Corinthians 12:4–31; Romans 12:3–8; Ephesians 4:7–16; 1 Peter 4:8–11).
  • Biblical precedence: In the Old Testament, Deborah was appointed by God as the leader over Israel in the time of the Judges (Judges 4:4-5; 5:31). While the New Testament speaks minimally to ordination as it is practiced in churches today, there is evidence that the Holy Spirit gifted women for leadership and other ministerial responsibilities in the apostolic era. Women leaders included Mary, the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14), Priscilla (Acts 18:26), Phoebe (Romans 16:1), Junia (Romans 16:7), and Nympha (Colossians 4:15), just to name a few.

The importance for generous dialogue

We recognize that the ordination of women is controversial in many churches, traditions, and parachurch ministries. Many will point to Jesus’ twelve male disciples, Paul’s admonition to Timothy to not permit a woman to teach over men (1 Timothy 2:11), biblical texts that appeal to the creation order of Adam formed before Eve (1 Corinthians 11:8; 2 Timothy 2:13-14), and church tradition.

For this reason, we strive to create a safe space for those who disagree on this topic to engage with grace and kindness.

We provide women and men who choose Portland Seminary with:

  • Strong female and male role models
  • Institutional support
  • Teaching that breaks down gender stereotypes and encourages women and men to flourish according to their calling


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