For those of you who were wondering and for those of you who asked for it, here is a piece that I wrote for the Reformed Church in America conscience clause debate at the 2004 General Synod when I was Executive Director of WITNESS.
Now, in 2014, I have revamped that brochure and laid it out in a much more common 8.5″ X 11″ format so that you can print it on common letter sized paper.
Here it is as a PDF: 12 Scriptural Examples.B (You have complete permission to print it and share this freely, please just let people know who it came from and where you got it. Thanks.)
12 Scriptural Examples of Women in Leadership
1) Miriam was a leader of the Children of Israel. Miriam is named as a leader alongside Moses and Aaron. (Micah 6:4, I Chr. 6:3, Num. 12) She and her mother Jachobed are also the only women named among the male priests of their tribe. (Numbers 26:59)
2) Deborah gave God’s instructions to Barak and the army. Deborah the Israelite judge said, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel commands you…” As the mouthpiece of God, Barak would not go to battle without her. She also correctly prophesied, “God will give Sisera into the hand of a woman.” (Judges 4)
3) Hulda the prophetess was chosen by King Josiah to identify a scroll instead of Jeremiah or Zephaniah.(2 Kings 22:8-23, 2 Chronicles 34:14-28) Hulda’s proclamation, “Thus saith the Lord” underscores her connection to God. Her calling the people to repentance and obedience began a great revival in Israel. (2 Kings 23:4-27; 2 Chronicles 34:29-35:19)
4) Anna was a New Testament Prophetess in the temple in Jerusalem. Anna proclaimed Christ’s birth, “To all who are looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Her life had been spent in service to God. (Luke 2:36-38)
5) Mary the Mother of Jesus was called by God to go against religious law and culture.
Mary becoming pregnant before marriage would invalidate her betrothal and would isolate her from her religious and social community. Nevertheless, Mary was obedient to God’s call and sacrificed her own plans. (Luke 1)
6) The Bible describes the outpouring of spirituals gifts to women.
(KJV) Joel 2:28-29 “And it shall come to pass afterward, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
7) Women were disciples of Jesus. They were not sent back to domestic duties. When Martha complained that her sister Mary of Bethany was not helping with the culturally appropriate household duties, but sitting at Jesus’ feet as a disciple and listening, Jesus responded that Mary had made a, “good choice, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42) Tabitha is also named as a disciple, “Full of good works and acts of charity.” (Acts 9:36-41)
8) The Samaritan Woman evangelized. Jesus not only broke with cultural traditions by speaking to a Samaritan woman alone, he also revealed to her that he was the Messiah. She in her faith left her normal tasks, evangelized and caused many people in her town to believe and be brought to Jesus. (John 4)
9) The women disciples of Jesus were called Ministers. All leaders in the New Testament were called to servant leadership. The Greek root word is “diakonon” (from where we transliterate, “Deacon”). This word is translated, “Minister” or “Servant”. This is the word that is used to describe Paul, Timothy, Barnabus and Apollos. (Acts 12:25, Acts 19:22, I Thess. 3:2, I Cor. 3:5) The women who ministered to Jesus are also called, “diakonon”. These are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome. (Mark 15:41, Matt 27:55)
10) Women were chosen by God to bear the news of the resurrection to the rest of the disciples.
In a society where women were not even deemed as reliable witnesses in court, the resurrected Jesus choose women to be the first witnesses to the most important and definitive event in history. This place of honor is then expanded by Jesus sending the women out with a message to the rest of the disciples. Since the definition of an apostle is “one who is sent” the women become the first apostles bearing the good news that Jesus has even conquered death. (Matt. 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-11, John 20:1-18) Seeing the resurrected Jesus later becomes one of the criterion for being an apostle. (I Cor. 9:1)
11) Junia is called a prominent apostle. Junia is praised by Paul as being one of his “kindred” and as a “fellow captive”. Because preaching the good news was the crime for which apostles were imprisoned, this activity would make her a kindred spirit of Paul’s. Since Paul also goes on to describe her as being, “prominent among the apostles”, or well known for her activities, this descriptor lends credence to her proficency in the highest profile activity of apostles; the preaching of the good news. She is also said to have been “in Christ” before Paul. (Romans 16:7)
12) Pheobe was the minister and leader of the Church in Cenchrea. She is also the only person who is named as a Saint by Paul. (Saint is “agion”, from the Greek root word of “holy”.) She is sent by Paul to carry the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:27) and to put it into action, “Assist her in whatever she may have need of you.” (This is parallel to the role of Timothy in I Cor. 4:17). She is also called a “Prostasis”; a ruler or leader. The root of this word is used in Acts 10:33, as “Prostasso” and is translated, “Command”. As a Prostasis, she is described as a “Leader of Many” and even as a leader of Paul himself! This is probably a reference to Paul’s visit to Cenchrea in Acts 18:18, where he makes a vow and shaves his head. No male leadership is ever associated with Cenchrea, only Pheobe. (Romans 16:1-2)