Women in Ministry | CBE International

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Women in Ministry

Sarah Lindsay
March is Women’s History Month, which means it’s time for my fellow history nerds to get excited about some of our favorite women of the past. One of my (many) favorites is Hild (or Hilda) of Whitby, an abbess in seventh-century England whose reputation for wisdom and piety still shines through the centuries. Hild was born in 614 in the court of her great-uncle, Edwin, who ruled the kingdom of Northumbria (in modern-day northern England and southern Scotland). In 625, when Hild was about eleven, Edwin married Æthelburh, a Christian princess from Kent (southeast England). Northumbria was as yet unconverted to Christianity, but Æthelburh was allowed to keep her faith and bring along her chaplain, a man named Paulinus. Paulinus, no doubt aided by Æthelburh, set... Read more
Young Thecla sat in her dark jail cell with rats as her only company. She was startled when the jailer suddenly appeared with his burning torch and fumbled with the keys that hung from his belt. He unlocked her cell door and led her down several corridors with large cages containing lions, bulls, and other fearsome animals, which would eventually be released to kill their victims in the arena. When they finally turned the corner and arrived at the last passageway, the woman could see a bright light shining ahead. The sound of a roaring crowd grew louder as she and the guard stepped closer to a rusty iron gate at the end of the tunnel. As soon as the gate opened, she felt the guard push her outside into the arena. She winced as the glaring Roman sunlight burned her face. In Thecla’s... Read more
Leanne Weber
Editor's Note: This is a Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winner. Enjoy! I am at the weekly prayer meeting that all church staff are required to attend. The leaders like it when spouses come too, but they understand that work and family obligations sometimes do not allow this. I am the only woman on staff whose spouse does not also work at the church. We are a one-car family, and my husband works at a group home forty-five minutes away from the church. I take a deep breath and scan the room, hoping to see another woman or a couple that I can catch a ride home with after the meeting. Otherwise I must sit in my office until almost midnight waiting for my husband to pick me up because, although it is not official policy, church culture dictates that a man and a woman who are not married to ea... Read more
Ellen Richard Vosburg
Editor’s Note: The following is an interview CBE International conducted with Kristen Padilla and Tara Beth Leach. Kristen and Tara were two of the organizers of the Day of Prayer for Women in Ministry, which took place on November 17, 2019. In the wake of this event, and with all the excitement it generated, we wanted to hear more from these tenacious church leaders and thought you might like to hear from them, too. Perhaps their example can help us as we all work together to support and encourage women in ministry. Kristen Padilla is a speaker, Bible teacher, wife, and mom, and she serves as the marketing and communications coordinator at Beeson Divinity School. She is the author of Now That I Am Called. Tara Beth Leach is the senior pastor of Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene... Read more
Jenn Smith Chen
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! The sun was high, burning and taunting its victims below. The air was so hot it suffocated each hopeful breath. I grew up in the central California heat and knew this was our way of life. Despite the unsavory conditions, my chance for freedom, for play, for a brief break in a long day in the life of a fourth grader would not be stolen by the relentless sun. As soon as our teacher, Ms. Roberts, dismissed us, one of my best friends, Jamie, and I ran out of the frigid, air-conditioned classroom and into the warm, melting light. We bounded towards a promising patch of grass—a patch with dandelions just waiting for us to turn these weeds into stunning jewelry. As we worked on making beautiful things for our... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. It was my first year of seminary. I looked over the worksheet our spiritual development professor had just handed out. “Place the amount of time you spend on each activity in the blank beside it.” Quickly, I scanned the listed activities. Sermon prep. Check. Studying. Check. Visitation. Well, I didn’t really do that. No check. I kept scanning, then slowly raised my hand. “Ah, where are the blanks for making dinner? Cleaning the house? Childcare?” Silence. “Shopping?” A couple clear—if immediately checked—snorts rose from the men in class. They had been busily filling out their forms. To ask that question had never occurred to them. Most clearly didn’t want... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! I was seven years old—sitting in a hard, metal desk, staring at the hole-y paddle hanging ominously on the wall, and wearing a skirt that reached three inches from my knee—when my teacher told us God didn’t want women to be pastors. Shocked, I thought, “How can this be? Why does God like boys more than girls?” I went home that day and cried to my mom that I wanted to be a boy. I was in fifth grade, standing with my parents in the church parking lot and staring at the black asphalt beneath my feet as I listened to a grown woman weep. Her ministry had been shut down by church leadership, she told my parents. The elders had determined that even though her minis... Read more
Sarah Lindsay
Editor’s Note: This article is based on an interview conducted by the author. In 2016, pastor Ray Kollbocker felt convicted to examine the issue of women’s leadership in the church. Two years later, in early 2018, his church opened all of its leadership positions to women. Kollbocker has been in ministry for many years, with over twenty years as the senior pastor at a church in Glen Ellyn, IL. During his years there, he’s guided the church through significant growth and a variety of other changes. For several years, Kollbocker knew that, at some point, he and the church would have to confront the question of whether women should be restricted from some leadership roles. So, during a sabbatical in 2016, Kollbocker dove into a study of Scripture and scholarship. As he d... Read more
Gricel Medina
Christian conferences exist to serve and edify the church. They provide an opportunity for believers to have community with each other and to learn from each other’s faith and experiences. They also provide platforms to leaders and visionaries who then shape how Christians think about and practice their faith. Christian conferences are a powerful tool. They can be used to engage, include, and challenge all Christians. They can also hurt and exclude believers who are already marginalized in US society and in the Christian family. And, they can confirm the conscious or unconscious biases and attitudes of the more powerful group. As a Latina, I have been hurt by how the church excludes those who look like me from the leadership and theology of Christian conferences. And as a woman, I... Read more
For most of my life, I didn’t attend a church that affirmed women in ministry. In fact, most of the churches I grew up in held the opposite view. They took the issue very seriously too. One Wednesday night when I was in maybe sixth grade, the male teacher for the boys’ class was absent. The female teacher for the girls’ class refused to allow the junior high boys to join us. Why? Women weren’t allowed to teach males once they graduated from elementary school. The same teacher encouraged us to aspire to become elders’ wives when we grew up. We were never encouraged to focus on our own gifts for ministry. We were not encouraged to serve the kingdom as writers, singers, missionaries, or worship ministers, and certainly not as preachers. I never saw a woman teac... Read more

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