Affirmation of Women in Ministry
Calvin Theological Seminary affirms women in ministry. All degree options at Calvin are available to students regardless of their gender, and we offer a comprehensive path to ordination in the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA) for both female and male students.
Can Women Go to Seminary?
Yes, women can attend Calvin Theological Seminary. It is important for women seeking to further their theological education to choose a seminary that will support them in their ministry calling.
Read Our Statement
Adopted by the Board of Trustees (5/22/20)
Women in Ministry at Calvin Theological Seminary
Women seminary students at Calvin Theological Seminary can pursue ordination and placement in ecclesiastical office in the Christian Reformed Church, and in other denominations. The CRCNA offers two pastoral ordination categories, both of which are open to women: Minister of the Word and Commissioned Pastor. Students can also use their Calvin seminary degree to seek ordination in another denomination.
Calvin Theological Seminary is fortunate to have women professors and faculty members who are leaders in their areas of study, including:
The students and alumni of Calvin Theological Seminary are curious, bold Christ followers committed to service. Learn more about some of the remarkable women who have studied with Calvin:
MA in Ministry Leadership student
Pastoral Leadership concentration
Sioux Center, Iowa
For many students, the choice between seminaries is a difficult one. Not for Gail Ashmore.
“It was an easy decision,” she says. “Calvin immediately partnered with me and affirmed my gifts, calling, and dreams.”
As Calvin’s first fully online student in her program, she experienced the seminary’s personal dedication firsthand.
“It was a big leap of faith to begin seminary,” Gail says. “Calvin not only took a personal interest in what God was doing in my life, but they had the desire to walk alongside me in the journey.”
Gail’s passion, as she will enthusiastically tell you, is to shepherd people through pastoral care and the truth of God's Word.
She serves with her husband, Sam, in campus ministries at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa. The pair hope to someday plant and pastor a church together.
As Gail provides pastoral care on campus and partners in raising two young children, she is grateful for the opportunity to plan out her seminary coursework around an already busy schedule.
“As a mom of two young children, my time and availability are quite limited. I often questioned if it was the right time to do school,” says Gail.
Because of the distance learning program, she feels at ease communicating with professors, staying on top of coursework, and connecting with classmates through Zoom meetings.
In an average week, you might find Gail volunteering at her church, having coffee with a Dordt student, speaking at a local event, and attending a play group for moms. Does this look like the average life of a seminary student? Today, perhaps it should.
Seminary students like Gail deserve a program that is radically accessible where they are.
MA in Ministry Leadership student
Education, Youth, and Family concentration
Sioux Center, Iowa
Helen Joung is on a mission.
“My calling is to serve students and families in public schools,” she says.
As the assistant superintendent of a public school district in the Pacific Northwest, Helen knows her ministry will impact all spheres of her life.
Not only will her Master’s in Ministry Leadership further strengthen her role as an educational administrator, it will also serve her in her goal of creating unity between various ministries in her church, where she serves as youth pastor.
It was at church that Helen first discovered Calvin Seminary.
“Calvin was highly recommended by my head pastor,” says Helen. As an alumnus himself, the pastor encouraged her to apply. If it hadn’t been for distance learning, Helen says she would have rejected the notion.
“Distance learning made it possible for me to pursue theological education,” Helen, a mom of three, explains. “The flexible schedule also allows me to have a full time job in addition to my ministry work.”
It was important to Helen to find a substantive program, in terms of both content and community. At Calvin, she found what she was hoping for.
“Distance learning at Calvin is so much more than online learning,” she explains. “I believe that my program really values authentic engagement and innovative ways to interact with the professors as well as my peers. The content and structure of each class encourages making connections with others.”
In addition to peer support, Helen felt the encouragement of Calvin faculty and staff.
“When you enroll here at the seminary, you immediately have this network of people who are cheering for you to start and finish strong,” she reflects.
“I also appreciate how each professor encourages their students to take a teaching and learning stance. They frame learning experiences to remind you that you have something very valuable to teach and contribute as well as learn.”
Lea Wilkening holds many roles, including: actor and improv artist, former accountant and current hockey fan, preacher and writer, member of church and Christian school leadership, spouse and parent.
She is rooted in her community and intentional about the commitments she makes. That’s why distance learning at Calvin Seminary makes sense as she pursues a calling in parish ministry.
“I have been able to work, continue serving in my community and my family can continue in their school and work environments,” says Lea. “Pursuing full time ministry is a commitment of the entire family and allowing them to stay in one place during seminary has lessened the burden on us all.”
She’s also been able to continue experiencing the diversity of Toronto while interacting with fellow MDiv students from around the globe.
“As the Greater Toronto Area has grown into one of the most diverse communities in the world, the world is coming to Toronto,” she explains. “The distance program has allowed me to learn about my community and invited me into learning conversations with a rich diversity of faith communities and cultures.”
“My favorite part of the distance program has been the practical projects which allow me to study, learn from, and prepare to serve the community in which I am currently called.”
For polymath Lea, it has also been encouraging to see experience ministry formation firsthand—formation that goes beyond the transactional aspects of some programs and sets Calvin Seminary apart.
“I appreciated Calvin’s approach to forming the whole person for ministry,” Lea said. “Not simply the particular tasks of preaching and pastoral care, but also my formation for the ministry.”
Career Paths for Women in Seminary
Calvin Theological Seminary prepares women students for a variety of career paths after graduation, including: