Yesterday I was officially set in as the Area Pastor Care Leader of the Vineyard Churches in my area. Just over one year ago, the Association of Vineyard Churches sent this letter to the movement. Up until issuing this letter, the Vineyard did not have an official stance on women in ministry. The model that was passed from the founder, John Wimber was one of a pastoral couple. From my vantage point it seemed that most women leaders in the Vineyard “married” into their leadership role. Local churches were/are autonomous, making their own decision as to ordain or have women serving in senior leadership positions.
I was part of a planting team in the Seattle area in 1994. I was a single woman. In early 1996 I was ordained and recognized as the associate pastor of VCC. The lead pastor at the time, my friend and mentor, Jim Henderson.
In December of 1996, I married Rich. In August of 1999 Jim resigned and Rich and I together stepped into co-pastors of VCC.
My experience was different than most models I was seeing in the Vineyard for women. As a single woman I had been ordained and sensed a call to senior leadership. I was functioning in that position when I married Rich. The first two years of our marriage, Rich (who had pastored for thirteen years prior, spent ten years in a counseling practice and then married me, an active senior leader serving VCC) did not have a role in senior leadership. Rich can tell his own story. I will say, it was difficult for us to navigate the reversal (for Rich) of roles in the church. This is a longer story which someday we will write about. Suffice to say, Rich fully supported my role as the associate pastor of VCC and had come to a place in his own life of holding loosely before Jesus what might come of us ever ministering together. At the time we stepped into the co-pastor function of VCC we basically re-planted the church together sharing leadership. I did not marry into the ministry of senior leadership. I had never dreamed of being a pastor’s wife (there is nothing derogatory meant in that statement), over the years, I sensed I would be part of a lead pastoral team and for me that was not dependent on being married to someone serving as a pastor.
It has been a long, long road as a woman in ministry, even in my movement. Honestly, there were times we re-evaluated staying a part of the Vineyard because of this issue. I often felt marginalized and misunderstood. Last year when the AVC leadership passed the resolution to do everything they could to empower women at all levels of leadership I was thrilled.
About a month ago, the regional overseer for the Northwest Region, Dave Pardee, asked me to come aboard the regional leadership team as the APCL for our area. Yesterday, some of the guys and my friend Carol Allard prayed for me and welcomed me as their APCL. I am honored. I think that I am the first stand alone woman to serve in the leadership of the Vineyard beyond the local church. Looking back ten years, I could never have guessed this would be happening. I am thankful for the opportunity for women in the Vineyard and I am thankful to the men and women in my area who have cheered me on. My deepest thanks to Rich, his support and constant confidence in me is what makes all of this possible.