First Word



Alexander R. Hay

To the women of our congregations to whose faithful ministry so much is owed.


The restriction of the witness of more than half the members of the Body of Christ, the Church of the Living God, is a most serious matter. Just as serious is a failure to understand the underlying principles of the special contributions that men and women are intended to make in its life and work. The Church is suffering great loss from these two causes.

These, of course, are not the only causes of spiritual loss. Central and basic in the whole Church’s witness is the giving to the Lord Jesus Christ his full place in the personal life of each believer. And this cannot be done unless the Cross of Christ is given its true place, applied by the Spirit of God, that Christ’s life may be manifested out of death. This we have dealt with in other books.

But the matter of women’s ministry is a supremely important one. Neglect of it will bring weakness into the life of the Christian community as well as into the witness of the congregation. And is it not the life manifested in the community of believers that provides the indispensable basis of the congregation’s witness? Indeed, may we not say that it is the Church’s witness? The woman’s share in this is vital. We must know, therefore, the part for which God has made her responsible, both in the community and in the congregation.

Nowhere is the power of the woman’s influence underestimated and misunderstood more than in the Church. It is exercised continually and powerfully either to further that which is true or to hinder it. In heathen tribes and primitive societies, even where customs would seem to restrict the woman’s freedom, it is found, never­theless, that their influence upon the community’s life, thought and customs is profound and decisive. They are the guardians of custom, even of customs that may seem to be to their disadvantage, and the home and the community cannot change unless they do. They are the most faithful in religious observances and the most opposed to the introduction of any change. Theirs is not the power of government but the power of the home; it is not the power of leadership but the power of the heart.

In the Church the women exercise a similar influence, never neutral, always strong, for or against that which is truly of God, depending upon their own spiritual state. And their spiritual state depends much upon their knowledge of God’s Word, their activity in his work and the spiritual experience they have derived from these two.

Thus when their spiritual activity is wrongly restricted their great loss is the Church’s great loss – a loss that cannot be remedied until they take the place that God has intended for them.