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Recently, a friend asked me an unexpected question. “Do you identify first as a Christian or as a feminist?” I was surprised by but not unprepared for her question. I’d considered it before, and the answer is complicated. Stick with me here.

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If God’s design for male-female relationships was unity and interdependence, and if hierarchy in relationships came as a result of sin, perhaps we need to reevaluate teachings on male “headship” in marriage today.

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Adam calling Eve “woman” does not indicate Adam’s authority over her; rather, it is an expression of the similarities that they share, as Adam exclaims “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called woman, for out of man this one was taken” (Gen. 2:23).

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If William Carey was the “father” of modern missions, was there a “mother?” Certainly, many prominent women have made their mark. Lottie Moon is considered the patron saint of Southern Baptist missions. Ann Judson was every bit as capable a missionary as her husband Adoniram.

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The book of Galatians reminds us we are called to be free, and to use that freedom to serve in love. 

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Lillian Trasher aimed to serve “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40). Her orphanage in Egypt took in abandoned children with physical disabilities and illnesses as well as vulnerable widows.

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These were among the first women to find in Methodism a liberating power to preach the gospel, but they were not the last. A qualified openness to women as spiritual leaders and preachers carried over into early American Methodism

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Whether rich or poor, black or white, male or female, free or slave, egalitarians of the nineteenth century called the world to answer for its oppression of those made in the image of God

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This contextual reading notes that Jesus’s death on the cross, represented by Eve’s offspring crushing the head of the serpent, frees humankind from sin’s consequences and reorders concepts of male dominion for all time.

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Many people don’t know that African American women were leading and pastoring churches from the beginning of the modern Pentecostal movement in the early 1900s. Meet two of these women: Lucy Farrow and Jennie Evans Seymour. 

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