Women in Leadership | CBE International

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Women in Leadership

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
(Adapted from a paper given at the 2007 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society) My interest in women and missions of the 1800s is reinvigorated, of late, by a number of experiences I’ve had lecturing at Christian colleges and seminaries around the county. When invited to speak for chapel services, I make an effort to learn something about the school, particularly the achievements of the founders and their graduates. In doing so, I have discovered the vast number of women alumni, who were also leaders on the mission field in the United States and abroad. And, they had the full support of the school’s founders. As I include these findings when I lecture, I am often surprised at the responses I receive… some of these Christian colleges appear almost emba... Read more
Thanks to John for pointing out a recent poll in Christianity Today that asked the question 'Is it unfair discrimination for a male pastor to refuse to serve with a female pastor?' The results were as follow: 45% said that it is not unfair discrimination if a male pastor refuses to serve because of his convictions. 25% said that it is unfair discrimination if a male pastor is serving in a church that officially ordains women. 20% said that it is unfair discrimination, and that it is unacceptable behavior even if it is based on a male pastor's understanding of Scripture. 10% said that it is not unfair discrimination, and that it is okay as long as a male pastor does not stop a female pastor from doing her work. And finally... what are your... Read more
Founded by the forward thinking Mary Lyon (1797-1849), Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Massachusetts (today known as Mount Holyoke College) was not her first educational venture. Lyon taught for several years along the Massachusetts countryside in smaller, elementary schools (often paid far less than the men in the area for the same amount of work). From 1817 to 1821, she attended Sanderson Academy and later taught there, as well as at the Adams Female Seminary in New Hampshire and Ipswich Female Seminary. Mount Holyoke opened in South Hadley in 1837 with eighty students, and it is Fidelia Fiske (1816-1864) who became its first graduate to enter into international missions. Fiske was said to be a precocious young girl, reading Cotton Mather’s Magnali Christi... Read more
We hear a lot about God speaking to women through men. But, does God ever speak to men through women? Let’s look at the biblical record. ‘After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples:... Read more
Can't we just agree to disagree? Have you found yourself sharing the Bible’s support for women’s gospel-service when someone asserts emphatically, ‘Can’t we just agree to disagree? This isn’t a salvation issue, after all!’ And, being peace-loving Christians, we are at first inclined to agree, until we remember someone like Lottie Moon. Considered one of the great missionaries of all time, Moon’s refusal to obey male authority led to the salvation of many. Lottie’s male supervisor opposed her desire to build a church in Northern China, where she not only made massive inroads for the gospel, but where she also inspired the next generation of Christian missionaries - and all the generations since then! Today, Lottie is celebrated... Read more

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