Women’s Ordination in the EPC: Learning from the CRC
The EPC occupies a rare place in Reformed evangelicalism. We allow for the ordination of women, but we do not require our officers to affirm women’s ordination, nor require churches to ordain women, and permit presbyteries to have male-only teaching elders. This subject is one of the few the EPC has formally identified as a “non essential” where there is room to disagree.
The EPC is not unique in our approach. The Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRC), which is an official ecumenical partner of the EPC, has a very similar position. Unlike the EPC, which was founded in 1981 and has had this position on women’s ordination since then, the CRC is a church with its roots in the Neo Calvinist movement in the mid-19th century and only began allowing women’s ordination 25 years ago. That led to schism and the formation of the URCNA. For the EPC, the issue is one we have settled from the outset: freedom for all views. For the CRC, the ordination of women is seen as part of a larger trajectory, for good or for ill.
How’s that going? Following the CRC’s recent adoption of their human sexuality report, a group has emerged calling for the church to adopt a third way, allowing room to agree to disagree on LGBT issues. They cite the CRC’s success with women’s ordination as an example of this possibility. CRC Pastor Eric Van Dyken assessed the state of things recently, and this excerpt is worth including at length…