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Personal Stories

A few months ago, I was asked to play the role of Ruth in a church drama. I was unsure about accepting the part, having a heavy academic load as I tried to finish my last year at Bethel University. But the more I thought about it, the more I was drawn to the character of Ruth and her life. And finally I accepted. In the days and weeks that followed, I found ways that Ruth’s voice and experience paralleled many of my own thoughts as I graduate and move out into the world to find the calling Christ has for me. Since I will be moving away from the Minneapolis area, my internship with CBE will end and I have found my heart’s cry to be the same as Ruth’s as she anticipated parting with Naomi, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be... Read more
One of my most trying journeys during college has been learning to give others grace: to forgive my roommate, to be patient with other white people’s ethnic journeys, to stop calling myself “an evangelical that doesn’t like other evangelicals.” One of the areas I still struggle with is in giving grace to women and men that don’t see eye-to-eye with me on gender issues. Every year our UNC InterVarsity chapter holds two events called Ladies’ Night and Men’s Night. Each involves one gender performing comical skits and serving food to the other, as a way to show them appreciation and honor. While attending Ladies’ Night and working on Men’s Night are great fun for most women in our chapter, for me, they are bittersweet. At some point e... Read more
As I write this, my sister is in labor, giving birth to a daughter. This child, whom none of her expectant family have yet laid eyes upon, has already showered us with an abundance of joy—not least because my sister had nearly given up hope of conceiving a child. When I see lived before me what the promise of a little girl can offer to a family, I shudder to remember the countless baby daughters who have been sacrificed because of their gender, left in the rubbish heaps of previous centuries to die of exposure in exchange for the “greater blessing” a brother would offer. I (unsuccessfully) try not to stand in judgment, because I cannot understand the grinding poverty and insurmountable social structures that drove past (and, dreadfully, still drives some present) par... Read more
I grew up in patriarchal churches. I got used to hearing Scripture readings and having to internally translate “man” to “humanity” or “people;” to seeing women behind the piano but not the pulpit or conducting the children’s choir but not the adult musicians; to being allowed to ask public questions in my high school Sunday school class but then denied the same opportunity later when I became an adult. So when, a few years ago, all my searching and questioning finally produced a permanent shift to egalitarianism, the smallest acts of justice in the church were great sources of encouragement to me. At the time I was a member of a patriarchal but relatively supportive congregation, and when “liberal” forces within the congregation le... Read more
'You should learn how to play the piano or something... since you'll be a minister's wife someday.' An older gentleman said this to me as we were walking along toward the Sunday school class where my husband Sam and I were to share about our missionary experiences. When we were single, Sam and I had both individually heard God's call and confirmation to be long-term missionaries, and both of us had taken steps of faith on short-term trips to answer that call. And, though they had invited my husband to be the speaker that morning, as equal partners in all things Sam of course wanted me to share my story as well. Sadly, the assumption was that Sam was the minister and I was the minister's wife! The gentleman's comment left me dumbfounded and speechless. I... Read more
Some, complementarian or otherwise, may believe that we egalitarians don’t love our fathers. Well, I loved my father. I want to share some memories of my father to show why I loved him so much. When I was twenty, I had to take some medicine. My father was worried that the condition I had would interrupt my studies. As a result, he asked me daily if I was taking my medicine. My mother asked him to stop. A couple of days later I received a phone call. When I picked it up I heard a very low voice say ‘Did you take your medicine today?’ I said ‘Yes, dad.’ My father said bye and abruptly hung up. This happened again two days later. I think my mother caught him, because he never did it again. Another time, we couldn’t buy anything extra because money w... Read more
When I got married a year ago, I kept my maiden name - just the way it had always been. It wasn't that I ever came upon a final decision; rather, it was more the result of a lot of indecision. It was assumed, of course, by all of our family and friends that I would take my husband's name. For not long after we had walked down the aisle we started receiving letters and invitations addressed to ‘Mr. and Mrs.,’ and it was frequently in the traditional form of, ‘Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.’ When I received those letters, I wondered where I went in the midst of the addressing process. Suddenly, my identity was completely lost in my husband, and it made me very 'angsty.' The angst, however, was no slight on my husband. I am ineffably in love... Read more
I was recently invited to a women’s meeting by a neighbor whom I was just getting to know and wanting to encourage in her Christian life. This friend really enjoys these meetings and the fellowship of other Christian women there, and she wanted to share this with me. On arrival, I noticed a couple there whom I knew from our district and a man (of the couple) who was attending to the overhead projector. I assumed he was there for technical support. After the meeting I asked my neighbor about why this man was there that night, and she replied that he was there every week. I didn't press the issue at that point, but the next day I looked on the internet for this particular group of women's ministries and discovered that they always have an ‘advisor’ at their gat... Read more
Last Sunday I met James Anderson, the African-American father who in 1963 won his lawsuit against the city of Birmingham, Alabama to enroll his children in the local all-white high school (if you're younger than me--32--you may need a reminder that this was well after Brown v. Board of Education made desegregation a federal law). He is a lovely man, smiling graciously over the white carnation in his buttonhole even as he remembers the “hell that was Birmin’ham in those days.” He quotes Dr. King in his southern drawl and proudly shows off pictures of his children, all college graduates working in various professions across the country. Mr. Anderson is a docent at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. In the short time Brandon and I have been in this area, several... Read more
Karen Till, CBE member and friend, is the author of this post about being a homeschool parent and an egalitarian. My journey towards equality and gift-based leadership began about three years ago when I read Cunningham and Hamilton’s book, Why Not Women. I was ready for it. At the time I was struggling with much of what the “homeschool way” was teaching about gender roles. I see now that God was preparing my heart. We have homeschooled our children for 14 years. We have 5 children—our oldest graduated a year ago and our youngest just started school this year. When we began we felt called and challenged by the Lord. I was delighted to take the task on and thrilled to have my kids with me instead of sending them away. My dream to have a family and be a st... Read more

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