Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Systematic Theology

First Advisor

Joel Biermann

Scripture References in this Resource

1 Peter 3:1, 5; 2 John 20: 21ff; 2 Samuel 1 :7; 2 Samuel 1:14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:2f; Exodus, 23:2; Galatians 3:28; Genesis 1:31; Genesis 3:1; Genesis 3:3; Genesis 8:8; Hebrews 13:9; John 17:21; John 3:4; Matthew 5:13; Numbers 22:21ff; Romans 12:2; Romans 13:1ff; Timothy 4:16


When the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK), to which I belong, established a deaconess college at the beginning of this century to train young women for parish work, it was not clear which kind of education they were going to be offered. Many observers, both from within and without, saw this as a signal that the church was moving towards the ordination of women. When the first crop of deaconesses graduated and were deployed into the parishes, a great confusion reigned among the members, both clergy and ordinary Christians, regarding the role of these new workers. To compound the situation, many of those deaconesses were not sure of their "job description" and what their roles were in relation to the ministry of the Word and Sacraments. The situation has not improved. Although they have been mainly involved in social work, there is still no direction regarding what deaconesses should and should not do. At times, they lead Bible studies during spiritual meetings. Sometimes they are also assigned readings in the worship service. Many pastors, however, have reservations about this. ELCK is not alone in this situation, for many churches are struggling to determine the appropriate place for women in the life of the church.

In Africa-and Kenya in particular-almost all the mainstream churches are ordaining women today. The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (CPEA), for example, have had women ministers for the last two decades. Judging by the rate at which churches are bringing women aboard the ministry, one is not being an alarmist to think that ELCK will soon fall under this domino effect. This concern has precipitated the writing of this thesis. I feel the need to investigate the factors that have facilitated the rapid acceptance and approval of women's ordination in many churches in Africa, and elsewhere in the world. As such, the chief purpose of this thesis is to bring to the fore the dangers lurking in those theological moves involved in women’s ordination, with a view to helping our church, ELCK, to identify and avoid them lest it be swayed from its confessional stand. I hope that this thesis will also stimulate more debate on this issue.

It would be unfair if I did not acknowledge the contribution of the following individuals: my wife, Pamela, for giving me peace of mind by caring for our children during my stay in St. Louis, where this paper was written; Rev. Osmo Harjula, the principal of Matongo Lutheran Theological College, for his support to me and my family; Dr. Joel Biermann, under whom I took all my Systematic Theology classes, for helping me to develop my thesis prospectus as well as introducing me to many valuable literary resources; and last but not least, seminarian Charles Sakpani, M.Div. student from Togo, for his warm company on the seminary campus.

It is my hope that those who read this paper will be enabled to identify and shun the theological errors leading to the ordination of women.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.