I recently ran across a long-winded and long-worded blog about whether women should be permitted to “preach” to a congregation. None of the points raised on either side of this question pertain to vocal ministry in a Friends meeting for worship. None of us is to come to worship with anything prepared to say. None of us has the authority to permit or to forbid anyone else to speak.
We Friends gather to wait upon Christ, alive and present in and among us, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Mat 18:20 It is He who chooses to speak or not, to say whatever He chooses through whomever He chooses.
“And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” Num 11:24-29
Moses knew that it is the Lord, not a seminary degree, which authors the prophetic message – a message directed at the specific people and their unique conditions in the meeting for worship at that moment, not a sermon labored over in advance, made by human hands, in some other time and place. As to the specific question of whether women may share in the gift or ministry, we say: “And may not the Spirit of Christ speak in the female as well as the male? Who is it that dare limit the Holy One of Israel? For the Light is the same in the male and in the female, and it cometh from Christ. . . . And who is it that dare stop Christ’s mouth?”- George Fox From our very beginnings, Friends have not only acknowledged but welcomed the gifts of vocal ministry with which our women have edified us all.
An extensive treatise on women speaking in ministry, see Margaret (Fell) Fox.
For more discussion of true Christ-authored ministry, see this tract.