Tag Archives: Women in Ministry

MHM Book Launch: Women in Ministry Leadership

2019 07 13 MHM Book Launch Douglas Heidebrecht Women in Ministry Leadership

You are invited to this FREE event!

Join us for an afternoon with author, Douglas J. Heidebrecht

July 13th at the Mennonite Heritage Museum

Presentation at 2pm

Light refreshments, meet the author, purchase books and have your book signed!

Everyone welcome, bring your friends and family!


This book explores the journey of the Mennonite Brethren – an Anabaptist-Evangelical church denomination in North America – highlighting their attempt to find consensus in their convictions and practice regarding the role of women in church ministry and leadership. Throughout this complex and vibrant conversation spanning over 50 years (1954-2010), Mennonite Brethren have sought to discern together as a community how to interpret the Scriptures in the midst of prevailing cultural changes. No other issue has received this level of attention by Mennonite Brethren during the second half of the 20th century. Author Doug Heidebrecht examines how both conference leaders as well as local church members have actively participated in this significant conversation.

Here is a recent news release in the MB Herald: https://mbherald.com/wiml-journey/

This fact-based book tells the story of the journey of the Mennonite Brethren Church grappling with women coming into ministry in the church. It details the times and places where conversations on the topic were held. The Mennonite Brethren Church worked hard at confronting the concern for finding the rightful place for women to serve. As the book shows, the Denomination was not always successful in expressing itself about the subject. But women are serving in the Mennonite Brethren Church in a variety of ways. As I read, I kept thinking—this is my story! This is where I come from and how I came to serve, even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a pastor. Thank you, Doug, for researching this story and showing how the Bride of Christ can fulfill its mandate to share the love of Jesus Christ.

—Lorraine Dick, pastor and former Board of Faith and Life chair

Interpreting Scripture in 21st Century culture can be challenging. An accurate account of more than fifty years of convictions and practices can be helpful because often we learn from what has already happened. That’s why this book is important.

—Ed Boschman, former executive director, U.S. Mennonite Brethren Church


Heidebrecht’s work is equal parts too-engaging-to-put-down, spellbinding, page-turner storytelling and a majestic historical masterpiece of the Mennonite Brethren Church. Heidebrecht sketches the denomination’s deep love of Scripture and the Spirit as MB’s seek ethical faithfulness intertwined with the siren-voiced temptations of personality and cultural influences. The you-are-there immediacy of this piece makes it must-have reading.

—Lynn Jost, professor, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary

I can still remember the general terrain and some stops on the long journey Mennonite Brethren took about women in ministry leadership, and have never forgotten how joy overwhelmed me in 2006 when we were freed to serve in all capacities. How wonderful now to have a detailed retrospective map of that journey; to have this careful and very interesting record of its challenges, stumbles, discipleship in community, disappointments—yes—and also joy.

—Dora Dueck, writer and former MB Herald editorial staff


When difficult conversations happen over a long period of time and consensus is not reached, it is inevitable that some of us will remember and evaluate the steps along the way quite diversely. The enormous strength of this book by Dr. Heidebrecht (“Doug” to most of us), is that his careful reporting and judicious assessments are the outcome of both direct engagement and very thorough research. Thanks, Doug, for helping us along this seemingly never-ending journey.

—Tim Geddert, professor, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary


Heidebrecht employs meticulous attention to historical detail in this review and reflection on 50+ years of agonizing effort to discern the roles of women in the Mennonite Brethren church of North America. He looks deep into the heart of Mennonite Brethren character. This book tells the tale, step by step, how the “dissolution of consensus” renders a “free church” almost incapable of dealing with the impact of cultural shift. And when leadership inevitably errs in some aspect of theological reflection or politics, or inadequately explains its resolutions or assumptions, all bets are off for finding a path forward in unity. This book is almost a thriller—politics, plagiarism, flawed effort, frustration, and a hopeful ending—as a church tries to pull itself up on its own bootstraps on a controversial issue without an operating shared hermeneutic.

—David Wiebe, former executive director, ICOMB


At a time when questions about the role of women in ministry continue to surface in Mennonite Brethren congregations in Canada and the U.S., this thorough study offers an even-handed and nuanced exploration of the issue. It is an important record and an invaluable resource.

—Christine Longhurst, professor, Canadian Mennonite University


Through meticulous research and deep theological reflection, Doug Heidebrecht helps us connect the origins, lead actors, and scenes in the unfolding drama of a people wrestling with God over the issue of women in ministry leadership.  Like Jacob of old at the River Jabbok, the Mennonite Brethren emerge out of the mud into a new day—deeply wounded, marked, and limping, but blessed.

—Ken Peters, pastor and former BFL chair


Doug Heidebrecht has given us the gift of examining the way Mennonite Brethren have sought to answer the question, “what does the Word say?” in regards to the appropriate roles for women in church leadership. With careful attention to detail, Heidebrecht brings to life the personalities and issues that shaped the conversation over the last half century. In doing so, he pushes us to examine how a community of believers can read and apply Scripture together. It is a fascinating examination of recent history.

—Valerie Rempel, professor, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary


This deeply researched and engaging study of women and leadership in the Mennonite Brethren denomination over nearly 60 years is an important case study of how churches respond to social change both outside and inside the fold. The cyclical decisions, debates, and disagreements over women’s rights or restrictions are simultaneously fascinating and frustrating. The book is a must read for individuals on all sides of this not-finished agenda.

—Marlene Epp, author of Mennonite Women in Canada: A History, and professor at Conrad Grebel University College


Heidebrecht deeply cares for the well-being of the Mennonite Brethren community. He has done yeoman’s service by deftly untangling the intertwined cultural influences, hermeneutical methods, and internal politics involved in the events and documents pertaining to their discussion of women in ministry leadership. This investigation presses the Mennonite Brethren (and others) toward (re)discovering the importance of a Spirit-enabled, communal discernment of “what the Bible says.”

—Bruce L. Guenther, professor, MB Biblical Seminary


Doug Heidebrecht’s meticulous research into the North American Mennonite Brethren journey with the question of women in ministry leadership is instructive and even riveting! This work makes a valuable contribution to the complex history of the roles of women in our family, as well as the understanding of denominational decision making informed by the disciplines of biblical studies and hermeneutical engagement. My hope is that this volume will encourage the many capable sisters in Mennonite Brethren churches around the world to generously employ their gifts and calling in the work of the life-changing gospel of Christ.

—Ingrid Reichard, National Faith & Life director, Canadian Conference of MB Churches