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Two weeks ago, I learned that my beloved young church—planted in 2016—is dissolving. After a spirited three year-run, our pastor ran out of emotional gas and our church ran out of money and denominational support. Looking back, the signs were clear: consistent calls for more volunteers; repeated appeals for increased giving; and lots of prolonged meetings about church vision. I received an email the Monday after the decision was made, summing up our dilemma: Our pastor couldn’t work three jobs anymore. We had money to fund just six months of church operations, and no sign that our income would magically increase. Caught in a tough corner, the leadership team made the impossible decision to close our doors. It’s a jolting end to a very sweet season for me. I feel l... Read more
When women come forward about abuse—sexual, religious, emotional, physical, financial, verbal, etc.—reactions often vary widely. Some people cheer on the survivors. Some people question why the victims didn’t come forward earlier. Some people worry that people have been falsely accused. Two years ago, I posted my own story of sexual and religious abuse on YouTube. Knowing that people often respond defensively, I worried: In telling my story, who would be impacted and how? What if telling my story caused harm instead of good? I wasn’t concerned about my abusers. But I agonized over how my truth could affect the lives of those close to my abusers, people I still care about. People who had something to lose. What if they were hurt? I thought about the wives of my ab... Read more
On Saturday, May 4, prominent Christian feminist and celebrated author Rachel Held Evans (37) died unexpectedly of complications from the flu. Rachel was a courageous voice for those of us who have felt unheard and unseen in the church. Like Halley’s comet, she burst across an empty, dark sky to cast her light on the anguish felt by women and those at the margins of the faith. Boldly, she named many demons: loneliness and isolation, misogyny, racism, despair, bigotry, profiteering, hypocrisy, obstruction of women’s gifts, misplaced priorities, and baseless hierarchies. Because of these failures, souls were distanced from authentic union with God and one another. Grieved, Rachel worked for change. Her first and perhaps strongest prophetic mission was to challenge a patriarchal... Read more
One of the main speakers at a conference I recently attended was a preacher from a complementarian church plant. In his sermon, he delivered a powerful call to social justice. Still, I couldn’t stomach the uneasy feeling that the message was tainted by his theology of gender. Questions ran through my head as he spoke: How did he view the women whom his social justice programs intended to help? Were there young women in his congregation longing but unable to answer God’s call to leadership? Why had he been invited to speak on social justice when he sustains and promotes an oppressive, unjust theology? Furious, I challenged the preacher after the service. For fifteen minutes, the conversation went round in circles. We achieved little with our anger, only fueling each other... Read more
I grew up in a small, middle-class, mostly mono-cultural community of white Mennonites. In school, I almost always found it easy to achieve success. I generally had access to good schools and attentive teachers, and my parents spent quite a bit of time educating me informally at home. I set high standards for myself and had high expectations of others. I truly believed that others could do better if they applied themselves. When they failed, I blamed them for not trying harder or using the resources available to them. I didn’t understand how being a white person from a middle-class community and supportive family contributed to my educational success or how structural inequality and unjust social conditions made it harder for certain people and groups to succeed. I didn’t real... Read more
Editor's note: This is one of our top 20 CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy!  “Reclaiming my time.” The world stood in disbelief last year when seasoned California congresswoman Maxine Waters (affectionately known as “Aunty Maxine”) refused to allow a man to co-opt her allotted time during a routine House Financial Services Committee hearing. Mouths hung open and there was a sense of corporate finger snapping as Aunty Maxine ignored the man’s delaying tactics and pressed him for answers. On that day, she immortalized the phrase "reclaiming my time." It was bold and unprecedented, a necessary moment. The treasury secretary was deliberately trying to avoid a congresswoman’s questions by allowing the time to run out. On the surface, hi... Read more
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on difficult Bible passages entitled “What to Say When…” Since the fall, women have suffered enormously under patriarchy. In the church, in the world, and in the home, women have always been subordinate to men, and as a result, they have been abused, oppressed, and silenced. Some say gender hierarchy is God’s perfect design—a pristine plan for women and men’s good and flourishing. They point to Genesis, arguing that God clearly intended patriarchy from the start. But the text tells a different story. If we look closer, it becomes clear that patriarchy was never God’s plan for humanity. Is Patriarchy God’s Will or the Consequence of Sin? Genesis 3:16 says, “in pain you will be... Read more
The #MeToo movement has successfully pulled back the curtain on hidden misogyny and rampant abuse of women in US culture. #ChurchToo has highlighted the sexism that’s just as alive in American pews and pulpits. Women from churches around the country have shared their stories of being abused, silenced, and sidelined. As I read these accounts, I sympathized deeply. I have my own #MeToo stories and #ChurchToo stories. Yet, I also have #MissionsToo stories and they have yet to be given space in these movements. The child of conservative missionaries, one of my first memories when we moved overseas was listening to the teary words of my mother's friend, a woman recently arrived from the United States. "He's my husband, and he believes that we should be overseas. My role is t... Read more
In Matthew 26, Jesus visits the home of Simon the Leper. While he’s there, a woman enters and anoints him with expensive perfume. His disciples are indignant. They object to her actions and claim that the money spent on the perfume could have been used to help the poor. As I read the story, I almost expect Jesus to agree with the woman’s accusers. But Jesus has a way of defying our expectations. Instead of condemning the woman, he criticizes the disciples for their inability to perceive either the woman’s intentions or the spiritual significance of her actions. He tells the disciples, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matt. 26:13). As I’ve spent time reflect... Read more
Sarah Lindsay
One of my best friends doesn’t have much interest in history. In our twenty years of friendship, we’ve good-naturedly teased each other about being the history nerd and the science geek. But she has also made me ask the question: why does history matter? And in the context of Women’s History Month in particular, why does women’s history matter? We all know the cliché that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. But as we see women making enormous strides in the last century, the cliché may not seem very true: why focus on the oppression of the past, on women whose lives were constrained by patriarchal beliefs, when we have so many inspiring examples of women winning the right to vote, shattering glass ceilings, running Fortune 500... Read more