If a visitor came up to you in the Foyer on a Sunday and asked, “What kind of place is the Chapel?,” how would you respond? Have you ever read the Chapel’s mission and vision and wondered: what does it mean to be an interdenominational family of faith?
“Believing that the Church of Jesus Christ is One Church and is One Body whose Head is Jesus Christ, this church is pledged to work with all who love the Lord Jesus and look for His appearance. To this end The Williamsburg Community Chapel shall be constituted as an interdenominational church wherein all of those who love Jesus Christ and desire to serve Him may join in one common effort. The statement of Faith to which this church adheres finds its expression in all the great historic confessions of the true Church of Jesus Christ. Those other elements which have caused confusion and division in the past within the Church of Jesus Christ shall not be permitted to destroy the unity of this body. Accordingly, we urge that attitudes of Christian love and tolerance be expressed toward those within the Body of Christ holding different points of view.” - Article III, Section B of the Williamsburg Community Chapel’s Constitution
Below is information on how we apply this principle in practical ways when it comes to disputable matters within the church.
The Nature of the Chapel - March 2019 Discussions
Our series of discussions from March 2019 on the Nature of the Chapel were designed to help us all understand what kind of place this is and how we can celebrate the unity to which Jesus calls us (John 17:21) amidst the diversity found in a biblically-based interdenominational family of faith. Topics included essentials of our faith, how to determine a “core” belief, and how to engage in discussion of “non-essentials” in a productive way. Each meeting also involved presentations from the pastors, a moderated panel discussion, as well as additional tools for continued engagement on each topic.
March 10: Our Core Beliefs and Principles of Bible Study
Session 1 Content
March 17: Biblical Postures of Polemics and a Case Study: Miraculous Gifts in the Church Today
Session 2 Content
March 24: Series Review and a Second Case Study: Gender and Church Office
Session 3 Content
Gender and Church Office Fact Sheet
Approved by the Elders of the Williamsburg Community Chapel on 10/16/2019
- There are multiple disputable matters within the Christian church, one of which is the biblical roles of men and women in church leadership.
- The WCC Statement of Faith is our expression of indisputable matters.
- The WCC identity as an interdenominational body of faith charges the leadership to ensure that all policies and procedures are balanced in such a way as to respect biblically-based differences in disputable matters.
- Constitutionally WCC is an elder-led church with significant involvement of the membership. The responsibilities that are delegated to the elders include determining the church’s doctrinal positions.
The Gender and Church Office (GCO) Committee History
- Over many years, those who believe in an expanded role for women within WCC have expressed their desires, including at Chapel Family Updates, to have their doctrinal beliefs for the role of women be addressed, particularly the issues of church office and leadership. This interest has also been reflected in increasing elder nominations of women.
- The elders felt a need to have clarity in WCC’s position on women in leadership. Consistent with past strategies for dealing with complex issues, on May 4, 2016 the elders approved the formation of the Gender and Church Office (GCO) Committee to fully investigate this issue.
- The committee membership consisted of the lead pastor, two other pastors, one deacon, two elders, and two lay leaders. The committee reflected a balance of gender, a broad spectrum of age, and the full breadth of theological positions on this subject. In fact, of the 8 committee members there were only two who began with a known view on this subject – one complementarian and one egalitarian. The positions of the remainder were unknown at the time they were invited to become part of committee. By their own testimony (included in Appendix II of the Approved Gender and Church Office Report), all were either undecided or tended toward one of the options based primarily on their prior church experience.
- The committee was charged to thoroughly study the relevant scriptures and other resources and report only their unanimous findings and recommendations to the Elders.
- The committee, having worked over a period of 1½ years, presented their report to the Elders on May 30, 2018.
The Elder Response
- The Board of Elders then committed for each board member to personally study the relevant scriptures and other commentaries and to then share their personal position on the findings and recommendations. This was done over a 3-month period of time.
- The WCC pastoral team and one of the church founders also met with the Elders and shared their personal perspectives on the role of women in the church. Both church founders affirmed their intent that eldership be open to all members regardless of gender.
- The Elders voted to accept the recommendations of the committee with only minor changes on August 30, 2018.
- Since the issue of gender and church office is a disputable matter, it is incumbent that our church function in every way possible to be a place where persons who embrace Jesus’ desire for unity of the Body of Christ can worship and serve as one despite our diversity in a broad range of matters. This is consistent with our Constitution’s statement: “The Williamsburg Community Chapel shall be constituted as an interdenominational church wherein all of those who love Jesus Christ and desire to serve Him may join in one common effort.”
- The Elders recognize that some persons in our congregation may so firmly hold their personal views that they are unable to acknowledge opposing views as legitimate. We pray that their hearts will soften on this matter and that they remain in our community.
- Despite individual elders also firmly holding differing views of scripture interpretation, as with all matters of church governance, the Elders recognize the need to submit to the authority of the Elders. When a plurality of elders makes a decision, the Elder team must be the first to embrace and live out our Membership Covenant, which outlines the promises we make to one another in order to live productively in biblical community together.
- The Elders’ position is that the findings and the recommendations of the GCO Committee are fully consistent with our identity and governance as an interdenominational family of faith which seeks to celebrate unity in the midst of diversity.
The Elders’ decision in the matter of Gender and Church Office is that gender will not be a criterion for church leadership positions. Therefore, the following policies concerning elder election are in effect:
- Elder nominations will originate from the membership and all nominated members will be considered as candidates for our Elder Education Program.
- An Elder Nominating Committee will be appointed to further screen and evaluate nominees without regard to gender using established criteria in WCC Constitution and Governance documents.
- The Elder Nominating Committee will create the ballot for the election of Elders by the membership.
- The Elders will vote to accept the ballot as created by the Nominating Committee.
- Each Chapel member will have the opportunity to cast votes equal to the number of open Elder positions.
The following resources are linked in the Gender & Church Office Fact Sheet above, but are also available by clicking the buttons below.
If you have any questions, please contact Alexis Kincaid, Executive Assistant to the Lead Pastor, , 941-1224.