We chat to Jane Tooher about Moore College’s new women’s ministry study stream in its Advanced diploma of Bible, ministry & mission.
Lots of people are getting excited about this development – how did it come about?
It’s been something I was hoping Moore could offer for some time now, but it wasn’t the right time previously. We were focused on other things including a review of the BD[i], getting accredited for our PhD and much more. Now those things have been done, we have been able to think more seriously about the diploma. I was keen for a women’s ministry stream and I spoke to Mark Thompson and he was extremely keen and wanted it to be offered in 2017, so he gave me the go-ahead.
What will the women’s ministry study stream provide that wasn’t already covered by the diploma?
We will offer three entirely new and unique subjects: (i) Ministries of Women; (ii) Women and Children in Church History, and (iii) Influences on & Issues for Australian Christian Women. None of this content was offered in the previous diplomas.
You helped design this program – of the electives being offered, which are you most excited about?
Mark Thompson gave me complete free reign as to what each of the subjects would look like so I’m excited about each one. But having said that, I am extremely glad that an Australian college is offering subjects that look at Australian Christian women in the past, and also how particular issues continue to impact Australian Christian women now. So our subject ‘Influences on & Issues for Australian Christian Women’ will look at things such as the World Wars, right to vote, contraception, no-fault divorce, free education, feminism etc.
Are other colleges running similar programs or is this something unique to Moore?
There are colleges and seminaries around the world that offer courses for women about women’s ministry and key influences, e.g. conservative evangelical Candi Finch, who serves on the faculty of Southwestern Seminary in Texas, offers a subject for women on feminism. These various courses vary a lot in content and also the level being offered. Some run a women’s course that is completely separate to their other courses and so those women don’t necessarily meet other students. Some of our content is unlike anything anywhere else, e.g. it is rare to have a subject covering women and children in Australian church history from a conservative evangelical point of view. It is also rare to offer these subjects at an Advanced Diploma level from which students can be eligible to transfer into the degree.
Who would benefit from this stream?
Any Christian woman wanting to be better equipped to serve Jesus Christ and His church in a variety of settings. We are anticipating a range of ages, personalities, backgrounds, and gifting. Some women may not have studied for many years or not at a tertiary level before. Others may have just finished university. Women are able to study the Advanced Diploma either part-time or full-time, as little as one subject at a time with only one day at College per week, so it’s flexible to suit as many women as possible.
In some circles, women’s ministry gets a bad rap – either it becomes a conversation about what women can’t do or there’s a lack of clarity about whether it’s really worthwhile – briefly, what are your thoughts on this?
The ministries of women are worthwhile because life is all about giving glory to God and what God is on about is reconciling the world to Himself. Men and women are being saved and God is working through men and women to save others, so it is good that each of us are better equipped for this mission. God has gifted women (and men) to serve the church and to reach the lost and we want to see those gifts developed and used to his glory. God has created us male and female, and the unique contribution of both sexes working together enables us to honour him, reach the lost and contribute to the building of his church. The very fact that I am female means I can bring something to life and ministry that a male can’t and vice versa. If we truly believe that God has given us each other for life and ministry, then we will want to see the ministries of women thrive, alongside the ministries of men. In this way the church will not only be delighting in its diversity but living out its unity.
[i] The Bachelor of Divinity, Moore’s four-year degree.