Women in Leadership | CBE International

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Women in Leadership

I remember the first time I knew I wanted to be a pastor. I was in eighth grade, just returning from a mission trip. The youth pastor asked for a student volunteer to speak in front of the congregation about the trip. I was shocked to recognize my own hand in the air and yet, I felt compelled to seize the opportunity. He agreed, qualifying that I could speak only during the first hour, the less attended 8 o'clock service. I knew it showed his lack of belief in me, but I didn't care. I was thrilled! My church believed that women were not allowed to teach the Bible in front of the congregation, a conviction they based heavily on 1 Timothy, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." (1 Tim. 2:12). However,... Read more
From the time of Esther and Deborah to Mary Magdalene to our current day, God has called women to establish his kingdom. Women have paid the price--often with significant personal sacrifice to carry the mantle of leadership that God has placed upon their shoulders. Last week, we began our journey through the lives of unsung single women who have answered God's call. They are bold, dynamic women who overcame obstacles to impact hundreds of lives. They are single women whose call to ministry has often been criticized and unsupported. The battle for the full recognition of female leadership in the church is that of all Christian women, but the stories I have chosen to tell are those of single women. As a single woman in urban ministry, their experiences have left a deep imprint on... Read more
I was born into the Christian church. I was dedicated as an infant, educated in Sunday school, and baptized at the age of twelve. At fourteen, I chose to become a follower of Christ, a commitment that has endured for over forty years of dedication and service. But, it has never been enough. Not enough to receive the respect and support accorded male leaders and ministers in the church. Not enough to quiet the questions and knowing glances all too familiar to women in ministry, letting us know that we are tolerable substitutes until the true minister arrives--the male minister. Being a woman in ministry or church leadership has been, and still continues to be, an uphill battle. Being a single woman in ministry introduces additional challenges. I. Single The person who inspired me to f... Read more
No one Ever Told me in Seminary Women oversaw ecclesial jurisdictions In England, Poland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Austria and Spain No one Ever Told me in Seminary About Harriet Livermore Who preached to Congress in 1827 With President John Quincy Adams sitting on the steps No one Ever Told me in Seminary Hundreds of women evangelists in the 1800s Preached in churches, fields, forests and school houses across the United States No one Ever Told me in Seminary Women were ordained for over 1,000 years In the Early Middle Ages No one Ever Told me in Seminary Women preachers were the first women to speak publicly To mixed audiences of Men and women in the United States No one Ever Told me in Seminary About Phoebe Palmer Who was called the “Mother... Read more
Recently I was told the story of a 55-year-old woman currently attending an evangelical seminary. This story, and others like it, drive my upcoming research at the Evangelical Theological Society conference: A 6-year-old girl spends Saturday mornings with her mother and grandmother in their local, rural Texas Baptist church. Her mom is the church pianist and her grandmother the organist, so she plays quietly while they practice for the Sunday service. She has been fascinated by the preacher’s role for some time. One day she stands behind the pulpit and pretends quietly to be the preacher. Yet, even at the age of 6, she knows she can never be the preacher because she is a girl. No one told her this. No one had to. At the age of 55, she’s finally going to seminary, but i... Read more
“Look, I love what you do and how you do it – just don’t call yourself an elder!”  This statement was in the context of a home group bible study when the topic of eldership came up. The person who spoke was a deacon and very supportive of us in ministry but he just couldn’t get his head around the thought of women being elders. At another time, one of the elders said “If Liz becomes an elder, then I will resign” and at that time we assured him it wasn’t our intention to push the issue. Interestingly, I was already the associate pastor and we had a split income because we shared the ministry, but the concept of a woman elder was just too much to tolerate. Just this week I was talking with a friend of over 40 years and she was saying... Read more
A few years ago I finally visited our neighborhood church. Having driven past it almost daily for over a decade, and then looking for a worship community closer to home, I decided to scout it out and see if it could be a fit for our family. My vivid first impression was of the two pastors, Pastor Stephanie and Pastor Ed, standing up front to greet the congregation and deliver announcements. I was immediately struck by the remarkable chemistry they demonstrated in the way they played off each other, practically alternating sentences. Their way of interacting set a welcoming tone and suggested an environment of close community and leadership through partnership. I had never witnessed this sort of real-time collaboration between pastors and it provided a strong clue that I had discovered o... Read more
The whole time she was preaching, I was thinking "Oh, if I could only be like her." I said it over and over in my 18 year-old brain as I observed the anointed woman preaching the word with great power and authority. It was in those few moments that I was convinced, not only in my head, but also in my heart that God could also use me. How could I ever forget this single moment? How could I ever forget evangelist Irma Contreras? Seeing her and interacting with her impacted my concept of women in ministry for life. In an area where male leadership is predominant, female role models are essential for young girls and women responding to God's call to ministry. I see a longing in the hearts of so many young women for someone to walk alongside them and coach them in their jo... Read more
This month marks the 31st anniversary of my ordination. I have spent about 28 of those years serving congregations as a pastor. As October rolls around, officially "Pastor Appreciation Month," I'd like to share my perspective on how you might appreciate your own pastor. Recently, a younger pastor, also a woman, wrote to me:   "I find being a pastor an incredibly awesome and wonderful calling. In what other job can I study God's word, proclaim the gospel, pray, reach out to the hurting--and get paid for it? I feel blessed and privileged to be able to serve in such a position."  I feel encouraged just by reading those words--that being female has not been an impediment to the vocation this woman has received. When I was ordained in 1983, I wa... Read more
“Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me; O LORD, be my helper. You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 30: 10-12). If there was ever an embodiment of these verses, it is in the lives touched by Channels of Hope for Gender in rural Durham. From middle-school children dramatizing the importance of HIV awareness, to children mesmerized by a math teacher, to Sunday School teachers, youth and pastors who have welcomed the liberating message in Scripture, one that free males and females from bondage—newness of life danced before us these past few days. Yet, the deepest transformation seemed to... Read more

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