The thesis proposes that the ministry of ordained women within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa has not fully integrated women. Although the Methodist Church Conference of 1972 had adopted a resolution to have women ordained in the ministry of the church, this has not been fully realised in the life of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Although women form the majority of people who come to church on Sundays, they form a very small group within ministers’ ranks.
The central research questions of the study were the following:
a) What are the challenges within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa that slows down its policy on the ordination of women?
b) What are the tools that can be used to address the challenges with regard to the full acceptance of women ministers within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa?
With these research questions the results of the study were the development of a picture within the church of women functioning effectively within their own women structures. Women organisations such as the Women’s Manyano and the Young Women’s Manyano are investigated and their phenomenal growth is highlighted. What they have learnt and practice within their own women organisations is not infiltrated into the full life of the Methodist Church. The exclusion and marginalisation of women in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa continues despite the examples of the inclusion of women in the Bible and in the early church.
The thesis traces the causes of the marginalisation of women within the Methodist Church to patriarchal and cultural stereotypes that are determining the reading and the understanding of the biblical text. Human nature is a condition that needs to be checked regularly in order to remove those elements that are human-made, self-serving and limiting. Some examples of psychological and cultural elements are cited as a basis for reflection and launching pad for women empowerment and for the transformation of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and its policy on the ministry of ordained women.
Empirical evidence is collected from women ministers and women who are training to become ministers. The responses are described, analysed, assessed and evaluated for what they are revealing. The responses of these women confirm the tensions that exist between men and women with regard to women serving in the ordained ministry within the church. The thesis concludes with some recommendations regarding the full integration of women into the life of the church as well as new areas for further reflection and study. It is my belief that the thesis will trigger further discussion which will lead to deeper insights of what it means to be a church that is the ‘Salt of the World’ in the changing and challenging environment of the ‘New South Africa’ which is also branded as ‘The Rainbow Nation’.