A consultation with the theme “Ecumenical Perspective on the Role of Women in the Churches” brought together 28 women and men to the Monastero di Bose in northern Italy from 3-7 October.
Participants came from major Christian traditions including Anglican, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Orthodox (Eastern and Oriental), Pentecostal, Reformed and Roman Catholic; there were also representatives of regional ecumenical organisations including the All Africa Conference of Churches, Caribbean Conference of Churches, Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias, Middle East Council of Churches, National Council of Churches in India, and Conference of European Churches.
The event was jointly organised by World Council of Churches (WCC) Just Community of Women and Men programme and the WCC Faith and Order as a follow-up to a similar consultation in 1979 which led, in 1980, to the publication of the book “Ordination of Women in Ecumenical perspective: a Workbook for the Church’s Future.”
Participants shared reports from their churches and regional contexts identifying continuities and important new developments. They hinged their dialogue on key questions such as: “What have been the effects of the (non) ordination of women for the ecumenical movement? What fresh challenges do we see in a context vastly different from the 1980s?”
While the practices surrounding the role of women in the churches vary, there is a common commitment to welcoming the gifts of women fully into the life of the churches. Participants acknowledged that, without these gifts, the life of the churches could not have continued, especially in trying times. Participants agreed to continue seeking common ground and ways forward.