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Women in Leadership

The 'priesthood of all believers doctrine' is well stated on the Southern Baptist Convention’s website: “We affirm the priesthood of all believers. Laypersons have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ's name. That is why the Convention requires strong lay involvement on its boards. This doctrine is first and foremost a matter of responsibility and servanthood, not privilege and license.” (http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/pspriesthood.asp)  The clearest Scriptural statement about this is in I Peter 2: 5,9 “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. …... Read more
Final Day of CBE International Conference in Toronto – July 19, 2008 Faith-friend writes:  The day began with Job. Mary Gonsior, CBE staff member, led Sunday morning devotions in the beautiful “Room of Truth” prayer room designed by Mandolyn Johnson. “There lived a man whose name was Job.  This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil…” (Job 1:1)  Mary began to tell the story of Job’s wealth, his seven sons, three daughters and vast herds, in her own words.  “He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.” (Job 1:3) “But suddenly, for no apparent reason,” Mary reminded us, “Job is ruined.   In a single, awful day, disaster strikes and Job... Read more
First Day of CBE International Conference in Toronto – July 18, 2008 Faith-friend writes: The second half of this year’s Conference’s title is: “Women and Men Using Their Gifts for the Great Commission” and it was clear from the first general session today that we would be emphasizing having a heart “for the nations” in this conference. Our opening speaker, a senior vice president from Coca-Cola, spoke of her Christian theology of work – that her company has global influence and she sees her work, in that company, as a way to aid the carrying out of the Great Commission.   Not only can she practice Christian ethics in the workplace and evangelize people she has contact with at appropriate moments, but the work creates imp... Read more
On Sunday morning, September 13, 1953, my father faced a really tough decision. My mother was in labor at the end of a troubled pregnancy that had included a late-term case of hard measles. She was headed to the hospital. But Dad was a fundamentalist preacher in a small church and had an obligation to lead the service and give the sermon. The problem was that he had no men to call on to give the sermon. Enter his mother. She was a deep Christian with a thorough knowledge of the Scripture and led a life of service. She was there to help with the pregnancy. After careful, if hurried, prayer, Dad asked my grandmother to take the service. She agreed to do so. At least two church members walked out when this woman went up to the pulpit. She would not “usurp” a man’s pl... Read more
Adapted from a post originally appearing on Ashleigh's personal blog, Being Redefined, May 2007. "It's ultimately about Jesus," "We want to focus on the essentials," "No reason to stir up controversy." The excuses to avoid serious questions about the issue of women in ministry are plentiful, and many sound pretty good. So why bother with an issue that's seemingly on the sidelines? Well, because it isn't! Don't get me wrong; there are certainly much more crucial elements of our faith. But the more I grow in Christ the more I understand that he desires to be Lord over everything in our lives and in this world! There is nothing that shouldn't be submitted to his leadership, including our church governing structure... Read more
I was shocked. I remembered the old Bryan*, the Bryan that put on the brakes during a discussion of Large Group speakers at our Coordinating Team planning retreat. “Why is it suddenly illegal to bring in white men?” he asked, frustrated. As Multi-Ethnicity Team Leader on our exec, I was pushing hard for more female and ethnic minority speakers during our weekly InterVarsity chapter meetings. Some of the other C-Team members were fairly supportive; Bryan was making it an uphill battle. How did that same Bryan end up sitting next to me on a flight home to North Carolina, rattling on excitedly about speaker Brenda Salter-McNeill and other highlights of Urbana 06? I had noticed how carefully InterVarsity had crafted its triennial missions conference, putting wom... Read more
February 20 was the release date of Susan McLeod-Harrison's first book Saving Women from the Church: How Jesus Mends a Divide (Barclay Press, 2008). Upfront I have to say I'm not sure I can review this book objectively. Susan's story is very close to my own. Reading this book, I wished it had been published about eight years earlier. That is when I was going through my own struggle on whether or not to remain in the Church. And I do mean Church with a big C. I wasn't thinking of only leaving my denomination, I was thinking of leaving the Church period. I was in seminary and on the ordination track. I did not see a place for myself in Christian ministry. I was single; I was evangelical; and I was called to preach and pastor. I was also asked in various churches i... Read more
As I write this, my sister is in labor, giving birth to a daughter. This child, whom none of her expectant family have yet laid eyes upon, has already showered us with an abundance of joy—not least because my sister had nearly given up hope of conceiving a child. When I see lived before me what the promise of a little girl can offer to a family, I shudder to remember the countless baby daughters who have been sacrificed because of their gender, left in the rubbish heaps of previous centuries to die of exposure in exchange for the “greater blessing” a brother would offer. I (unsuccessfully) try not to stand in judgment, because I cannot understand the grinding poverty and insurmountable social structures that drove past (and, dreadfully, still drives some present) par... Read more
I grew up in patriarchal churches. I got used to hearing Scripture readings and having to internally translate “man” to “humanity” or “people;” to seeing women behind the piano but not the pulpit or conducting the children’s choir but not the adult musicians; to being allowed to ask public questions in my high school Sunday school class but then denied the same opportunity later when I became an adult. So when, a few years ago, all my searching and questioning finally produced a permanent shift to egalitarianism, the smallest acts of justice in the church were great sources of encouragement to me. At the time I was a member of a patriarchal but relatively supportive congregation, and when “liberal” forces within the congregation le... Read more
'You should learn how to play the piano or something... since you'll be a minister's wife someday.' An older gentleman said this to me as we were walking along toward the Sunday school class where my husband Sam and I were to share about our missionary experiences. When we were single, Sam and I had both individually heard God's call and confirmation to be long-term missionaries, and both of us had taken steps of faith on short-term trips to answer that call. And, though they had invited my husband to be the speaker that morning, as equal partners in all things Sam of course wanted me to share my story as well. Sadly, the assumption was that Sam was the minister and I was the minister's wife! The gentleman's comment left me dumbfounded and speechless. I... Read more