Though limitations on women in institutional leadership continue, Holiness and Pentecostal women continue to carry out evangelistic ministries using the venues of revival and camp meetings as well as women’s conferences and conventions.
Could it be that the complementarian notion of “biblical womanhood” (especially the claim that women’s distinct personhood makes no room for women as teachers and leaders of men) is a recent, Western perspective?
What the example of Deborah reveals about gender authority: As women have gained increased influence in society, and as Bible scholars offer a consistent egalitarian interpretation of Scripture, gender traditionalists have had to work harder and more creatively to justify the subordination of women within the church and family—even to themselves.
What happens when the hall of theology becomes an echo chamber? What happens when half the sky meets God but the church doesn’t want to hear their story? What happens when the theological insights of women are pressed to the margins of Christianity?
Rev. Dr. Prathia Hall Wynn was a womanist theologian, pastor, mentor, and civil rights activist who developed the concept of a “freedom-faith.” She is an important figure in Black history, women’s history, church history, and American history for her work towards a church and an America where all people are considered equal, regardless of their race, ethnicity, class, or gender.
Stereotypes say women are too emotional to lead, while men are clear and logical leaders. But when we look at the Bible, we find that these stereotypes are not only incorrect, they are also unbiblical.
Every time discouragement sets in because of the slow progress of egalitarian ideas, we ought to be able to reach over our shoulders and pull from the shelf a book such as Sapinsley's. The story of Mrs. Packard (1816-1897), set in the American midwest, should remind all of us how much has been accomplished by our forebears.
I foresee days when the gift of words will feel like a curse. On mornings when the labor is hard, I must remember to hold on to the hope of the joy. I must remember that I’m not alone. Annie Dillard reminded me of this: “At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace...you search, you break your fists, your back, your brain, and then—and only then—it is handed to you.”