Original Research - Special Collection: Women Theologies

‘Women, forgive us’: A German case study

Volker Kessler
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 2 | a7588 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i2.7588 | © 2022 Volker Kessler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 March 2022 | Published: 29 November 2022

About the author(s)

Volker Kessler, Gesellschaft für Bildung und Forschung in Europa, Gummersbach, Germany; amd Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


This article offers insight into the image of women in German conservative congregations, especially in the Brethren movement. It also describes the author’s personal journey to a position of strongly supporting female preaching and female leadership in churches. The article combines empirical facts and personal insights. It gives examples of androcentrism in German academic theology. The case study is on the Brethren movement in Germany and their teaching on women, which was very much influenced by certain Pauline texts from the New Testament. Unfortunately, ‘women’s role in the church’ became the shibboleth for biblical correctness. While living and working in this context, the author discovered inconsistencies in practice, which finally led to this paradigm shift.

Contribution: It is argued that if women are not allowed to participate publicly in the church services, it is like driving a car with four cylinders but turning off two cylinders.


women’s role in churches; Brethren movement; evangelical; androcentrism; feminism; shared leadership; Germany.


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