Women in Leadership | CBE International

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Women in Leadership

Lexi Friesen
[Editor's note: This post is one in a series on notable women from church history we're doing to celebrate Women's History Month. This week we're highlighting two women from the high and late middle ages: Clare of Assisi and Isotta Nogarola.] Clare of Assisi Saint Clare of Assisi, the eldest child in her family, was a devout woman. She devoted much of her childhood life to prayer and going on pilgrimages to Rome, Santiago de Compostela, and the Holy Land. When she was seventeen, she heard Saint Francis of Assisi speak and shortly after, ran away from home, determined to follow him into a life of poverty and prayer. Francis took Clare under his wing and placed her in the covenant of Benedictine nuns. Her father made many attempts to take Clare back and ord... Read more
Lexi Friesen
An author, playwright, and philanthropist, Hannah More was a single woman living in England during the 1700s into the early nineteenth century. Moore was the fourth of five daughters in her family. All of the More sisters were educated by their father, John, first learning the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics. More’s father was slightly fearful of the way she soaked up education, as mathematics was especially seen was masculine. Despite John’s worrying, the older sisters went on to educate themselves and their younger sister; More wrote her first play when she was seventeen, developing her writing skills at a young age, while she was teaching at a girls’ boarding school that her older sisters ran. Her play was called The Search for Happiness, and was meant to i... Read more
Lexi Friesen
[Editor's note: March is Women's History Month and CBE is celebrating by highlighting some admirable women from church history that you may or may not be familiar with. Each post this month will have short biographies on a few of these women who lived during a certain time period. We hope you find this month-long series enriching and enlightening.] Nino Nino was a great woman apostle in the fourth century, best known for her preaching and healing in the Iberian kingdom (present-day Georgia), although prior to that she helped her uncle spread the gospel around Rome. Nino healed Queen Nana of Iberia from a severe illness. This incident caused the queen to convert to Christianity and be baptized by Nino, despite the king’s intolerance for Christians. The king threatened... Read more
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

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