Why We Affirm Women in Seminary, Church Leadership & Ministry

Date Published

February 25, 2023

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Published by Calvin Seminary

Women in Seminary

Can Women Go to Seminary?

Calvin Theological Seminary not only admits women but welcomes them and affirms them in their callings. Our Affirmation of Women in Ministry expresses our desire for women to be fully welcomed, encouraged, and heard.

Whether or not women can go to a particular seminary often depends on that seminary’s denominational affiliations. The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) ordains women to serve in the offices of Minister of the Word and Commissioned Pastor, and CRCNA churches may also appoint women to serve in the offices of deacons and elders.

Women in Ministry in the CRCNA

During their Synod gathering in 1996, the CRCNA voted to open all church offices to women. More than 170 women are currently serving in the CRCNA in the role of Minister of the Word or Commissioned Pastor.

What Can a Woman Do with a Theology Degree?

Some graduates with a theological degree choose to serve in traditional church ministry. Others find their place, through the priesthood of all believers, in positions across every sector, around the globe. Here are just some of the careers of Calvin Theological Seminary graduates:

  • Pastor
  • Professor
  • Missionary
  • Chaplain (hospital, armed forces, university, etc.)
  • Teacher
  • Editor
  • Translator
  • School administrator
  • Counselor
  • Lawyer
  • Realtor
  • Author
  • Stay-at-home parent
  • Director of a non-profit

Different degrees can prepare students for different careers and vocations. For example, the Master of Divinity (MDiv) is a designated path to ordination for future pastors.

Women in Church Leadership

Can Women Be Pastors?

Yes. Many women choose to go to seminary to become pastors. This vocational path is open to women in the CRCNA.

Women Leaders in the Bible

Scripture gives clear examples of women answering the call to ministry, including:

  • Junia: Mentioned by Paul as “outstanding among the apostles” in his letter to the Romans, Junia has been identified as an apostle working alongside Andronicus and Paul.
  • Phoebe: In the same letter to the Romans, Phoebe is mentioned as “a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.”
  • Priscilla: Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, are mentioned throughout the New Testament, although notably in Romans as Paul’s “co-workers in Christ Jesus.”

Scripture also highlights how groups of women were critical to carrying out the work of God in both the Old Testament and the New, including:

  • Women at the tomb: These courageous women first witnessed the resurrected Christ and shared the good news. The four gospels may differ in the details, but they are remarkably consistent in the fact that women were the first to proclaim the resurrection.
  • Women Christ followers: From Mary Magdalene to Joanna to Susanna, the Bible states that women followed Jesus along with his twelve disciples. Not only did they follow Jesus, but scripture also implies that they bankrolled his ministry.
  • Women students: Mary of Bethany famously chose to sit at Jesus’ feet to listen to what he had to say. Even when pressed by her sister, Martha, to leave, Mary wouldn’t—and Jesus made it clear that Mary deserved to stay and listen. Other women in the Bible received lessons directly from Jesus, such as the Samaritan woman at the well.
  • Women prophets: You can find female prophets—in essence, truth-tellers—in both the Old and New Testaments, including Anna, Huldah, Miriam, and Deborah.

Can Women Preach?

Yes. Calvin Theological Seminary is committed to preparing students for excellence in preaching and even has a center for that very purpose. The mission of the Center for Excellence in Preaching is to serve the church by providing preachers with fresh ideas and resources to help make the weekly sermon from God’s Word an eventful and vibrant proclamation of grace and hope.

The Benefits of Women Teaching in Church

Both women and men are made in the image of God (imago dei), and learning from each other helps us to understand more about God and his world.

Women in Ministry

Attending Seminary as a Woman in Ministry

In addition to women hoping to begin their vocational ministry, women who are already active in ministry as pastors, chaplains, missionaries, and other roles are invited to attend seminary for further theological education.

Online Seminary for Women & Hybrid Options

Calvin’s options for fully online or hybrid coursework may appeal to women who are already serving their communities. Distance learning is a great opportunity to continue your education without leaving your existing community and ministry.

Seminary for International Students

International students are warmly invited to study at Calvin Theological Seminary. Men and women studying with Calvin Theological Seminary represent more than 20 home countries.

Calvin Theological Seminary Affirms Women in Seminary & Beyond

If you are a woman looking for a theological seminary to support your calling, apply to your degree program at Calvin Theological Seminary today.


Visit Calvin Theological Seminary’s Campus

We can’t wait to host you on campus! Schedule your visit today, or, if you need more time to find a date that works for you, please request information so we can continue the conversation about supporting your calling!