Mexican church marks 10 years of women’s ordination
Equal participation in other areas of church life has grown
(LWI) - The recent celebration of 10 years of women’s ordination in the Mexican Lutheran Church (ILM) was an occasion to reaffirm the church’s commitment to empower and encourage both women and men to contribute their gifts as equals in the pastoral ministry.
“In Genesis [1:27], we read that God creates humanity in God’s image and likeness, and in equal circumstances. The capacities, gifts and opportunities to serve others are granted by the Lord to men as well as women,” ILM President Rev. Roberto Trejo said during the 6 April festive worship service at the Gracia Church in the capital, Mexico City. “In the ILM, we needed the pastoral ministry for women because both men and women reflect the image of God,” he added.
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member church has 1,500 members. It has 11 congregations, which are led by nine ordained pastors—three women and six men.
Rev. Sofia Tenorio was the first woman from the church to study theology at the Augsburg Lutheran Seminary in Mexico City (SEMLA), and she was later joined by Rev. Maria Elena Ortega and Rev. Ángela Trejo Haager. Motivated by their lecturers and pastors, they asked the church to accept them as candidates for pastoral ministry, and all three were ordained in 2009.
Lutheran pastors continue to advocate a gender perspective in institutional policies and congregational practices, which in our Mexican context, contributes to reconstruction of the social fabric and to the concrete lives of women in our communities of faith.
Ordained in 2015, another female pastor Rev. Karina García Carmona currently leads one of the Mexico City congregations, while also teaching at SEMLA. She noted that women’s ordination has also promoted lay female leadership in the diaconal work of congregations. “Lutheran pastors continue to advocate a gender perspective in institutional policies and congregational practices, which in our Mexican context, contributes to reconstruction of the social fabric and to the concrete lives of women in our communities of faith,” she said.
Dialogue on the dignity of all people
Sofia Tenorio, a pastor in the Gracia congregation in the capital city, spoke of the joys and challenges of being a female pastor in the context of Mexico’s machismo society. Many men and women do not accept a woman pastor as equal to an ordained man, she said. She therefore encourages her congregants to see a woman as someone whom God has also called “to evangelize the people, identify training and development opportunities, lead in preaching, singing, directing, teaching and organizing.”
For Ángela Trejo Haager, the pastoral task goes hand in hand with teaching at both the Lutheran seminary and the Theological Community of Mexico. As the coordinator of SEMLA, she described her work as a “constant walk where we have been accompanied with love and solidarity by fellow pastors who believe in gender equality.”
Trejo Haager, who will soon begin her doctoral studies in gender at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, with LWF’s support, said the celebration of women’s ordination was important in making visible an ongoing process. “Our desire to serve the church and support the processes of biblical reflection has grown,” she added.
Former ILM president Rev. Daniel Trejo Coria expressed gratitude for the “good dialogues” in the church that made it possible to achieve women’s ordination in a meaningful way. “The inspiring attitude of Jesus to the women, commissioning them to share the message about his resurrection, is central to the gospel, and is no less than that to the disciples of the Lord,” he added.
In a letter to ILM, LWF area secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean Rev. Dr Patricia Cuyatti congratulated the church for its commitment to an inclusive pastoral ministry. “I celebrate with the Mexican church for its inclusive pastoral ministry. I pray that the ILM continues to bear fruit in the commitment to affirm the full participation of men and women on an equal basis.”
Cuyatti thanked the women pastors for “putting their gifts and talents into practice and inspiring many people to embrace this honorable service to God.”
By LWF LAC Communications network. Edited by LWF Communications.
The Mexican Lutheran Church has 1,500 members, and it joined the LWF in 1957.