Women in Leadership | CBE International

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Women in Leadership

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
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