When Samantha Chambo and Annemarie Snijders sat down with Holiness Today, they discovered they shared more than Christ in common.
These two accomplished clergywomen from contrasting cultures—Chambo from South Africa and Snijders from the Netherlands—both have a passion to empower women to step up to leadership in the church.
Chambo was born and raised in South Africa before marrying a Mozambican, Africa Regional Director Filimao Chambo. They have two children, Tsakani and Emanual.
Samantha Chambo holds a master’s degree in theology. She was ordained by Jim Bond in 2003 on Mozambique’s Matola District. Now Chambo is pursuing a PhD in theological studies at Nazarene Theological College (NTC) Manchester. She also is a teacher at NTC South Africa, and is coordinator for the Africa Nazarene Women Clergy for the region.
Early in her career, Annemarie Snijders felt called to serve in a local church. She had experienced the traditional role of pastor’s wife when she and her husband, Arthur, served their first church in England and then in Haarlem, Netherlands. As she began to study, she developed her own understanding of leadership roles. When her husband became a district superintendent, traveling and preaching on Sundays, it freed the couple up to develop separate ministries.
No Wesleyan fellowship met in the area they lived in, in Veenendaal, Netherlands. Annemarie Snijders was on the district home mission board developing strategies for church planting. The reception to her vision for what a new church might look like was not encouraging in the beginning. But she reached out to an older Nazarene couple that had moved into the area. Then she started teaching a class on the Church of the Nazarene that attracted some students from the Bible college at which her husband taught. Within six months, in 2002, the group became church members and were meeting in homes. This while juggling her calling, working as a physical therapist, and rearing with Arthur their three children: Job, Anna, and Bart.
In 2004 the congregation began regular weekly services. Snijders was appointed as the pastor. She stopped working as a physical therapist.
Snijders earned a master of arts in world evangelism from Tyndale Theological Seminary, and was ordained in 2007 by Paul Cunningham on the Netherlands District.
The Snijderses went to Bangladesh for a month-long sabbatical. She met many who were pastoring at least one church and often two, and also managed compassionate ministry centers. She returned inspired to wear several hats with regards to the mission of the church. In 2012 she started a second church plant in Utrecht, Netherlands.
When her husband took on the assignment of regional director in 2013, they moved to Utrecht. The lead pastor is now Gabi Markusse and Snijders is assistant pastor. The church has moved into a “depressed” area where there isn’t another evangelical presence.
Holiness Today (HT): How are you developing women leaders on your regions?
Samantha Chambo (SC): I think our situation in Africa is different from the church in the West.
Annemarie Snijders (AS): In what way?
SC: We have many women pastors. We had a conference last year and only a fraction could come, and we had 88 in attendance.
AS: Why is it different in Johannesburg versus away from there?
SC: I’m not sure. It could be how they were evangelized early on. But throughout Africa there are large numbers of female pastors. Besides the local pastorate, it’s not that common to have female leaders.
Johannesburg is predominately a Western culture. This is just my opinion, but it seems that sometimes people in that culture struggle more with women in leadership versus other cultures. It is the way the culture seems to function.
AS: It is my impression that where the Holy Spirit is really working, there are more opportunities for women to be in leadership. In Bangladesh, for example, there are many women in leadership as pastors.
SC: That may be due to the fact that there is so much to do. This is true in Mozambique where churches are used to calling women. My mother-in-law, Bessie Tshambe, pastored Maputo Central Church of the Nazarene with over 2,000 members. Maputo City Church is pastored by Anna Moiane. These are prominent churches.
AS: But they have had revival in Mozambique; the fruits are still happening there. It has a lot to do with role expectations and the culture.
SC: We are very inclusive. We don’t have separate training just for women except for our women’s conference. At our Bible school, about half of the students are women. All pastors get the same training at PALCONs [pastors’ and leaders’ conferences]. We have district superintendent training. It’s all open for anyone who wishes to attend.
HT: Are you intentional in including women in leadership development?
SC: My husband, Filimao, is very intentional about including women. The names of speakers for conferences such as regional conference include women and men. He’s very aware of it.
AS: As far as leadership development of women, I try to invest in coaching conversations with women in leadership. I am also responsible for the development of M-Power [mission power]. The purpose of this program is to make it much more accessible for people on our region to become involved in missions. We’d like to mature as a region—to be a sending region and getting cross-cultural experience for our people. There is a task force working on this.
I travel quite a bit with my husband and in doing so, I meet with women pastors and talk to them about their situations. These will vary from field to field. In Western Europe, the idea is that men and women should have equal job opportunities, but I’m the only ordained elder in the Netherlands right now. Gabi [Markusse] is the only senior pastor and two pastors, a couple, are co-pastors., so the number of female pastors in leadership is very limited, even though the Netherlands is very postmodern.
These problems need to be identified and leadership has to address them.
SC: In terms of how we empower in Africa, the initiative of Africa Nazarene Women Clergy is intentional. Every field has a women clergy committee. They meet and report to the regional office. We meet during regional conferences; all are invited to attend the workshops or classes. It is a concern that we only have one female district superintendent thus far. It is an area we will have to work on.
AS: On the Eurasia Region, we have three female district superintendents. In Romania, the Church of the Nazarene could not be part of an evangelical alliance because we allow female pastors. Because we have a female district superintendent there, this is making a statement and we make the point that we will allow and empower female leadership. We are counter-cultural in that sense.
SC: Interesting tidbit about Africa—we have women in leadership at various educational institutions: Africa Nazarene University (Leah Marangu), Southern Africa Nazarene University (Winnie Nhlengethwa), NTC South Africa (Catherine Lebese).
AS: We have quite a few women in theological education. But church planting is an area that seems more difficult for women. I think it is because many people believe that taking new initiatives should be done by males.
HT: How does being a woman enhance one’s ministry?
SC: I think in being a wife, mother, and a woman’s life situation in general can make it difficult.
However, our natural disposition towards empathy and nurturing can be very useful in ministry. Also, women are used to multitasking and wearing many hats. This is part of the responsibilities of being a pastor.
AS: But in taking it slowly, it can work well for a woman. If she is in a home because of her family, and is a self-starter, instead of starting a small business she can start a church. It is something entrepreneurial. If we can identify entrepreneurs, we can help women to develop into church planters.
In some world areas where revival is not in the DNA of the culture, we need to take courageous steps forward to help women be pastors or evangelists or church planters.
SC: It’s important to highlight countries where women are allowed to function in their gifting.
HT: Did you have mentors?
SC: When I started as a speaker, I looked at popular Christian women speakers and learned from them. Now, my involvement with women clergy and being exposed to Wesleyan women like Carla Sunberg, Deirdre Brower Latz, and Vicki Copp gave me hope that there is a place for women in our denomination.
I was so inspired by events sponsored by Wesleyan-Holiness Women Clergy, those are Wesleyan Holiness women and Jo Anne Lyon [The Wesleyan Church general superintendent] are very inspiring.
AS: I’d like Jo Anne Lyon to be my mentor.
Mainly, I’ve had men or couples who mentored me. In some ways, it is a lonely journey being a woman in leadership and finding your place within the church. I’ve had help on the way, from several people. Age makes a difference on where we are on the journey.
AS: I am in an accountability group with three other women, outside the Church of the Nazarene.
SC: I meet women one-on-one who are leaders in their own fields, outside of ministry. I was involved in Celebrate Recovery and would help sponsor women. So while I do not have a set time and place for meeting with all these women, we do meet and I am able to mentor them.
I am very intentional as I teach at NTC and interacting with the women. The men seem more secure in verbalizing their call than are the women. I tell them, “Just say it.”
AS: What you’re doing is empowering to them.