There is not an official document posted on the Association of Vineyard Churches website regarding the role of women in the Vineyard. Here are a few of the statements from the letter we recieved:
"Having completed this process, the Board came together last week and unanimously agreed on the following position in regard to the trans-local ministry of women:
In response to the message of the kingdom, the leadership of the Vineyard movement will encourage, train, and empower women at all levels of leadership both local and trans-local. The movement as a whole welcomes the participation of women in leadership in all areas of ministry.
We also recognize and understand that some Vineyard pastors have a different understanding of the scriptures. Each local church retains the right to make its own decisions regarding ordination and appointment of senior pastors.
There is no hidden message in this. It is our attempt to simply say that we are committed to empowering women wherever and whenever we believe the Lord has gifted them for leadership. The local church is still free to make its own decision regarding who they will empower for local church leadership. Nothing has changed on that. All Vineyard pastors will continue to respect pastors who have a different position on this matter. The attached document outlines the way this respect should be reflected.
This is a very difficult issue. Very sincere Christians have strong disagreements. Even if the issue were as simple as agreeing on the meaning of authentein or kephale, the division would still exist. But this question addresses much more. It involves questions regarding the nature of authority, how we interpret scriptures, and the influence of our understanding of the kingdom on the issue. It requires working through issues of ecclesiology (the nature of ordination), how to relate to our culture in missionally effective ways, and the nature of masculinity and femininity - to mention only a few. These are all issues we will need to work through and questions we will need to address as we endeavor to be what God has intended us to be for the twenty-first century.
The leaders of our movement, including myself and the members of our board are primarily pastor-practitioners and not professional theologians. This has always characterized our movement. Respected theologians and Bible scholars with current or historical ties to the Vineyard have taken opposite views on this issue based on their best reading of Scripture and careful theologizing. Given these limitations, it is not reasonable to expect that this issue could be resolved by Biblical expertise. It is not reasonable to expect that either position could be stated in a way that convincingly addresses all the objections from respected quarters. We can simply assure you that we have approached this decision prayerfully with our best reading of Scripture and spiritual discernment. We share this decision with conviction and clear conscience, but also with humility.
This decision is not a dictate passed down from the national leadership. Pastors continue to be free to handle these issues according to their convictions within the context of their local churches. It is simply a description of how we will act toward women in leadership as we endeavor to lead the Vineyard movement in the U.S. at the national level.
I look forward to providing more perspective on this issue as time and opportunity allows, keeping in mind that we have many important matters to attend to in our pursuit of the kingdom.
Please bear in mind that we have simply addressed the issue of whether to restrict someone from trans-local leadership positions in the Vineyard based on gender. We are not speaking to the questions of marital or family roles as this has never been a prominent concern in our movement.
We welcome, respect, and value pastors in the Vineyard who have different positions on the issue of women’s roles in the church than we have taken. We have worked together for years fruitfully in spite of these and other differences among us, thanks to our shared treasure in Jesus and His Kingdom. The fact is, it is our conviction that a decision had to be made on this question for the health of our movement. Continuing in a position of unclarity on this question was not a viable option.
The tensions we live in are a part of the reality of the already/not yet. May we work together, with our differences, until the kingdom comes in its fullness and removes the barriers to our understanding."