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Women in Leadership

Last spring, I received an email from Southern Baptist affiliate Campbellsville University (Campbellsville, KY) informing me of their intention to join CBE as an organization member. I learned that a private donor had funded a five-year annual lectureship, the first of which would be led by me. I was also invited to lead a convocation chapel, give two classroom lectures, and address the annual Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy (KHIPP). What could inspire such profound commitment to biblical gender equality at Campbellsville University (CU)? Several years back, two CU faculty members volunteered in CBE's office for a few weeks over the summer. A planned mission trip had been cancelled and they had time on their hands. They wanted to spend it serving an organization wit... Read more
“Can you tell me what this verse means?” Ellen asked. She glanced at her Bible and read, "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” She looked up at the pulpit, where our pastor, a prematurely gray-haired man, stood during the congregational meeting Q and A. I was sandwiched between my parents on a honey-colored pew. Even at fourteen, I struggled to see past the shoulders in front of me. But I could see Ellen. She was tall, nearly six feet. I could tell by the way she read the verses—no, by her simply asking the question—that she wouldn’t stay silent, no matter what the Bible said. There was an anxious pause for a moment. Or, at least, I was anxious. B... Read more
I read her question to me in an email. I could hear right through the tiny screen that there was urgency behind her words. She was half disapproving and half pleading. She was taking a risk, exposing herself, just by asking. "Don't you feel," she said, "a lot of guilt? I do think it's inspiring that you follow your convictions. You're so brave. But don't you feel like following your own call all the time, like that, is also selfish? What do you do about the guilt?"    I wanted to leap right through my phone then and there to take her by the hands. I wanted a big group hug right that minute with every woman who has ever followed her call against resistance. I wanted to shout, "YES, I have felt the guilt. Yes. And I will name it for wha... Read more
Katia Cook
[Editor's note: As we near the end of our content series on youth and egaliatarianism, we'll be presenting the stories of two women at the intersection of two seemingly unrelated topics: egalitarianism and autism. Katia, who lives with autism, and her mother, Jeanette, will share interesting insights into these two topics through their own stories and their analysis of how egalitarians can work towards equality in realms that include people with high-functioning autism. We hope you enjoy the seres.] It was at a homeschool group pizza party when I was almost 12 that I faced the cold reality: I was different. The other girls in our group fit together. I was the misfit. So was my family. Unlike the other homeschool families in our area, Dad was not as involved as the other fathers,... Read more
When I was a child, I wanted to be just like my father. He was a preacher, and I loved watching him share the Word of God with his flock. I especially loved it when he expounded on the original Greek and Hebrew in the biblical text. I thought the most wonderful thing in the world would be to attend seminary, learn these languages, and then share my insights with others like my father. Unfortunately, I faced one very large hurdle: women weren’t supposed to preach. I knew this because I heard my parents discussing it. One day in our house they were complaining about how our denomination was simply becoming too extreme. I distinctly recall hearing my mother say, “Why, I hear that in some of our churches they’re even allowing women preachers!” A couple of years later... Read more
I was recently asked to lead a discussion with a group of young ladies (mostly college-age students) on what it means to be a woman of God. I started the conversation by asking them what initial images and thoughts come to mind when they heard the phrase, "woman of God."  They responded: "Big hats." "Poised." "Virtuous." "Prayer warrior." "Spiritually strong." "High heels." "Knows the Bible inside and out." These examples sounded like some sort of spiritually immortal bionic wonder woman. I was overwhelmed with sadness. I recalled being a young college woman around their age, beginning my own faith journey. At the time, I wanted to be a woman of God so badly. When people would ask me what or... Read more
Liz Gentry
“Well, do you feel like God’s called you to ministry?” My mentor’s question made me laugh. Of course I feel like God has called me to ministry! For 5 years I’ve pursued ministry, and God’s call on my life has grown stronger. I’ve never questioned my calling—only my desire for ordination. He then said, “Well, then you should be ordained.” Simple yet profound. My journey toward ministry has been, at the same time, both incredibly beautiful and terribly messy. As a junior in high school, I knew God wanted me to go into vocational ministry and I pursued that calling from then on. I’ll be the first to admit, God has made my path much easier than some. At Milligan College, I never had condescending looks from Bible or ministry... Read more
Lexi Friesen
Grace Church began in 1991 near Indianapolis and has grown into a mega-church of about 6,000 weekly attendees. Their vision for an electric, passionate church has helped allow Grace Church to expand into a second location. On February 9, 2014, Grace Church boldly adopted an egalitarian stance on women in church leadership and people of their congregation and across the globe have been encouraged by their stance. We got in touch with Tim Ayers, the teaching pastor at Grace Church to learn more about the changes that have been made to their church currently and what these changes will mean for Grace Church as they move forward.   LEXI FRIESEN: What were the driving forces behind changing Grace Church’s stance to support women in leadership? TIM AYERS: About ten years ago... Read more
Lexi Friesen
Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception Sister Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, also known as Anna Muttathupadathu, was born in 1910 in Kerala, India. After experiencing the loss of her mother at a young age and then refusing pressure from her aunt to marry and become a housewife, Alphonsamma, as she was called locally, joined a convent at age seventeen. She completed her schooling through the Catholic Church, became a Franciscan nun, and taught at a girls’ high school. Her life as a teacher and sister was cut short as she suffered from multiple injuries and illnesses which lead to her death in 1946. Despite going through great pain, she remained faithful to God and became the first native Indian to be honored as a saint. At a ceremony to announce her canonization... Read more
Tim Krueger
Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin has a habit of making history. Hudson-Wilkin has overcome poverty, racism, sexism, and tradition to become a high-profile minister, trailblazer, and advocate. Born into poverty in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Hudson-Wilkin was raised by her father and aunt in Jamaica, but eventually moved to the UK where she pursued a career as a minister. Some highlights of her ministry include: In 1994, the first year the Church of England ordained women to the priesthood, she was ordained. In 2000, she became the priest of a parish in Hackney (an impoverished area of inner-city London). She was the first woman and the first person of color to lead this parish. In 2007, she became chaplain to the Queen of England. She is the first woman of color to hold this position.... Read more