The place of women in the Church is not a new problem, and it has seldom been an easy one. But during the last few decades, especially in Europe, it has cropped up in a new and urgent way, bringing with it questions of deep and practical significance. Should women undertake the responsibilities of a pastor in the Church? Should women be ordained? Does the present status of women in church circles adequately reflect the biblical affirmation that “in Christ … there is neither male nor female”? Not a few churches are puzzled by these questions, and many are moving to face them in the light of pressing organizational and sociological demands.

That the problem should arise in this new way is due to many factors—the emancipation of women in the nineteenth century, the subsequent promotion of women to positions of responsibility, the crying need for leadership within the Church. But this problem has also been aggravated by the ecumenical movement, in which many women have played leading roles. As a result, it is singularly appropriate that the question of female ordination should be raised within the ecumenical movement itself.

As far back as the first world Conference on Faith and Order in 1927, six women issued a statement calling for a careful consideration of “the right place of women in the Church.” And at New Delhi in 1961, a committee dealing with theological questions expressed an urgent request to the Working Committee on Faith and Order “to establish a study of the theological. Biblical and ecclesiological issues involved in the ordination of women.” To this request many troubled churches of the WCC gave hearty endorsement.

Last month the Department on the Cooperation of Men and Women in Church. Family and Society reported ...

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