Ordination of women : partnership, praxis and experience of the United Church of Zambia.
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There exists a gender distortion in the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) concerning the participation of women in the ministry, mainly because of the biased patriarchal images about women and their role in church and society. To achieve the goal of women participation, the UCZ has to re-image their understanding of women from a historical bias to that of a fair, balanced, and historical inclusion of both genders. Consequently, this thesis called for the initiation of such a paradigm shift within the church. To achieve this, the UCZ Theological Seminary needed to realign its programmes and curricula in order to be more gender sensitive and thereby include more women scholars as partners in theological education. Such a theology of partnership between women and men was explored through the feminist discourse using ecclesiology and gender partnership theories. This study is located within the United Church of Zambia (UCZ). It set out to explore the unequal partnership between the ordained women and men in the United Church of Zambia from a gendered perspective. Its focus was to address the praxis of partnership between women and men as reflected in the following areas: first, in the church policies on the ordination of women; second, in the experiences of patriarchy by the ordained women; and third, in the theological curriculum at the UCZ Theological Seminary. In view of the above, the UCZ needed to work out interventions to control those leadership structures that are dominated by men and which only represent male interests. Even the theological curriculum offered at the UCZ Theological Seminary was not gender mainstreamed to assist both the clergy and laity to fully embrace the ordination and service of women. Consequently, the study addressed the key question as to how the church had promoted the unequal partnership between women and men in its policies and practices. This was guided by the hypothesis that although the UCZ had encouraged the ordination of women, yet there were no clear policies and practices that supported the partnership of women and men in the church structures and in the theological curriculum. The data analysed in this study was obtained through in-depth interviews with representatives of Synod officers as policy-makers and ordained women. A survey questionnaire was used to generate a mixture of qualitative data with members of staff and students resident at the UCZ Theological Seminary. While previous studies on gender justice theory and praxis had been based upon rhetoric in addressing the gender justice issue in the UCZ, this present study availed a body of knowledge based on the recorded patriarchy experiences by women ordained ministers because of lack of a clear gender policy and gender mainstreaming of the theological education at the UCZ Theological Seminary.