…is not the name of Zach Lind’s other band. He shared this today on twitter:
This seems really common. Hipster, young and misogynist communities. http://t.co/6RLEzKi1G1
— Zach Lind (@zlind76) February 5, 2014
The article is about Vintage Church, a swarm of youngish, hippish folks in Raleigh, NC who seem to get together to wear plaid, worship Jesus, and maintain archaic gender roles they still, somehow, believe are mandated by Christian scripture. Vintage is one of many such communities and is part of the Acts 29 church planting network, a group founded by Mark Driscoll. You may know Driscoll from having recently interviewed Russell Wilson, or for his hateful public witness regarding gender roles and sexual identity.
It’s not the case that Vintage and churches like it are aping indie culture to make their presentation of not-the-gospel more appealing. Indie culture has been aped by the over-culture to such an extent that lots of folks, from places of spiritual need (looking for love in all the wrong places), are able to belong to these kinds of churches and listen to bands like CHVRCHES without the kind of damning cognitive dissonance you’d expect and hope for. At least for a while.
Sarah McCoy left Vintage in 2010. Now an associate pastor at Love Wins ministries, she couldn’t accept Vintage’s views on women.
“It became clear to me they did not honor my personhood in the same way they honored the male leadership,” she said. “The work we do [at Love Wins] is all about people being equal in the eyes of the world and of God. I believe we are all fundamentally the same, no matter the gender.”
Vintage and Acts 29 churches are unusual in that they are contemporary in liturgical practices but hold fast to outdated tenets such as a patriarchal church leadership.
Acts 29 churches are guided by five “doctrinal distinctives.” One of these is “deep commitment to the fundamental spiritual and moral equality of male and female, as well as the principle of male headship in the church and home.”
Women can be staff members in Acts 29 churches, but they cannot serve in teaching or leadership positions. Though Catholicism and other orthodox denominations don’t allow the ordination of women, many Protestant denominations permit it. Progressive Episcopal churches allow the ordination of openly gay clergy.
Strangely, the Acts 29 organizations are not up front about this aspect of their structure. There is nothing about Vintage’s refusal to ordain women on the church’s website.
Amy Laura Hall, an associate professor of Christian ethics at Duke University and elder at United Methodist Church, said that the Southern Baptist Convention recently tightened the reins on women in leadership, and that “there is a similar kind of discipline going on in the Acts 29 network.”
“Their most consistent messaging to men is that they are re-masculinizing the church,” Hall said. “It’s been feminized and we need to re-masculinize Christianity. If young people stay a part of those churches, we will have a significant segment of that generation being very gender conservative on the natural hierarchy between men and women.”
“It was communicated to us in sermons,” Laura, a former Vintage member, said. “Pastors would talk about women, almost on it being a level of sin for a mother to work outside the home and it was a sin on the husband’s part because he wasn’t providing for the family.”
McCoy said she also experienced “single-shaming” for being unmarried.
“It’s one thing to say we as humans are meant for relationships,” McCoy said, “but when you’re made to feel like you’re doing something wrong by being single, that’s taking it to another extreme.”
Another former congregant who asked not to be named, remembered a sermon in which Pastor Jones said the most important thing a woman can do is be a wife and mother.
“A lot of women in the congregation were really hurt by that,” the former congregant said. “Many were single or divorced. That’s a pretty strong statement.”
According to the church’s communications director, Vintage’s 2014 operating budget is nearly $2 million. A former staff member, who worked at Vintage until 2009 and had access to the church’s financial information, said Jones and the other lead pastors “were making over $100K, with pastoral housing allowances and everything.”
Shit like this is one of the reasons I’m working on projects like this.