The Wesleyan Church (TWC) invites local churches to observe PreacHer Sunday this fall — an initiative aiming to guarantee that at least one Sunday in September, Wesleyan churches see a woman delivering a sermon from the pulpit.

The Wesleyan Church has a long history of believing in the powerful witness of women and men working together in partnership to advance the gospel. The pan-Wesleyan tradition has celebrated several “signature moments” tied to advancing the cause of women in leadership, from the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, to the selection of our first female General Superintendent in 2008.

Despite those “signature moments,” our execution has lagged behind our belief: in 2002, only 86 women were ordained Wesleyan ministers. Local churches have tremendous influence in shifting this trend, because congregations are where women who feel called to ministry learn they can serve in the church.

The local church is the primary setting for the discovery of calling for most disciples. It’s where our gifts are called out, where we should receive equipping, and where we find the place God has designed us to serve as part of the body. There certainly have been courageous, Spirit-filled women God has called into ministry without them ever knowing another female pastor, but how much more likely are women to step into using their God-given ministry giftings if they have examples to look to in their local church leadership?

“God can use the preaching of one woman to stir something in the spirit of another — to spark bold dreams of the vast ways in which they can use their gifts to serve their Creator …” shared Hannah Klopfenstein, Washington state church planter.

As more Wesleyan congregations empower women in leadership, the denomination is noticing some traction, as our number of ordained women clergy has risen to a count of 494 (not including retired clergy, or those on reserve, or without appointment) with numbers continuing to trend upward. This remarkable growth reflects the increasing recognition of women’s unique gifts, perspectives and abilities in congregational ministry as well as their dedication to serving the church.

One inspiring example is Jessica Folz, an extraordinary communicator, and a pivotal member of the staff of Lakeview Church in Marion, Indiana. Jessica did not grow up believing that she could be a pastor as a woman. However, through the affirming words of several others in ministry and the support of her male lead pastor, she found the strength to answer that call. Jessica’s involvement has brought immense value to the church, highlighting the positive impact that arises when women and men work together harmoniously.

Nancy Pike, worship pastor at LifeSpring in Richmond, Indiana, felt God’s call to preach about a year-and-a-half ago. Working in a church with many ordained and experienced ministers, she was nervous about bringing it up to her senior pastor. However, when she did, he supported and encouraged her, and placed her on the preaching calendar a few weeks later. Today, Nancy is privileged to be a part of LifeSpring’s preaching rotation and honored to preach God’s Word. Her story showcases the transformative power of fostering an environment where women and men are empowered to explore their full potential.

In the Great Lakes District, Aeysha Young is a shining example of someone pursuing ordination while championing a district initiative to see, empower and launch women of color into positions of leadership. Her passion for seeing women and men working alongside each other in the church is truly inspiring.

The growing number of ordained women within TWC — and the stories of individuals like Jessica Folz, Nancy Pike, Emily Klopfenstein and Aeysha Young — remind us of the power of local churches in encouraging and equipping women and men for all levels of leadership in the church. As we approach PreacHer Sunday, these stories are instructive reminders of the opportunity congregations have to cultivate spaces where women and men see themselves working together in every level of leadership within the church.

For more information about women and men working together to lead the church, visit

Rev. Ethan Linder is the pastor of discipleship at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, and contributing editor at The Wesleyan Church’s Education and Clergy Development Division.