Women in Leadership | CBE International

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Women in Leadership

I was fortunate to be raised by parents who valued and encouraged education for their daughters. Growing up in a family of three daughters with a fairly egalitarian father, I never knew the sting of boys being favored over girls in anything—sports, education, career, or ministry. My parents cheered me on at my athletic competitions and proudly supported my academic accomplishments. My father administered the oath of office when I was commissioned as an officer into the military. I enjoyed the full support of my parents as I earned two master’s degrees and a ministry diploma. My father wanted his daughters to be educated women of character, capable of supporting themselves.  The importance of girls and women receiving a good education seemed obvious to me. I could not... Read more
A few years ago, my daughter landed the starring role of Mary in her school nativity. My heart thumbed in my chest as she took to the stage. My smile beamed from cheek to cheek as I watched her play the part brilliantly. Every Christmas, many young girls are given the role of this unknown, unmarried, unnoticed teenager who was told by an angel that she would give birth to God’s son. Yes, you read that correctly—she was to give birth to God’s son, Jesus. In our eyes, she was an ordinary girl called to do something extraordinary. Yet to God, she was an extraordinary woman called to do something pretty ordinary (to him). I have often wondered—what would we do with Mary today? If she was to come into our lives and churches announcing that she was pregnant with... Read more
Until I launched my own dream to plant a church, I found more freedom to be who God created me to be, and to exercise my gifts of teaching, leadership, and yes, even pastoring, in the military. As a Lieutenant Colonel, I have a great deal of latitude in how I lead, strategize, and execute plans to accomplish the mission. I have been trained, equipped, commissioned by Congress, and appointed by the President. The expectation is that I am capable and willing to conduct whatever operations necessary to meet objectives. The fact that I am a woman simply does not enter the equation. My experience in the church, however, has been quite different. I have been trained, equipped, and commissioned by Christ (Matthew 28) and yet, a pastor told me that I would not be ordained because I am a woma... Read more
Back in the mid-80's, environmental education trickled down into rural Kentucky. I quickly became a diligent crusader to save the fish caught in the plastic rings that held 6-pack soft drinks together. I carefully clipped the rings before throwing them away. I would even drag uncut ones out of the trash, while earnestly explaining to my parents why it was important to cut the rings apart. I felt like I was making a difference by keeping the fish safe from becoming trapped in the uncut plastic rings and dying unnecessarily. What I didn't consider was that our trash went to a landfill outside Berea. A solidly land-locked landfill, I might add. The fish were in no grave danger, despite my zealous efforts to save them. Years later, I asked my mother why she allowed m... Read more
Recently, Perry Noble, pastor of New Spring megachurch, wrote an article defending the idea that women should preach. To that, theologian Tom Schreiner wrote a response for The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). Though from a Southern Baptist background, Noble is open to a more egalitarian stance, at least to allow women to preach. Schreiner has argued for what can be identified as traditional complementarianism (men are the leaders in both the home and church). His overall perspective was that Perry Noble fails to persuade in his article for women preaching. I think Schreiner has some fair thoughts on the holes in Noble’s arguments (though not Noble’s conclusions about women preaching). However, both Schreiner... Read more
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