We headed to England this fall with some trepidation. We were attempting some- thing new in the history of CBE—hosting a symposium in a foreign country. Why England? A location in the United Kingdom was selected in part because of scholarship of evangelicals such as N.T. Wright, Elaine Storkey, David Instone-Brewer, Mary Evans and Esther Reed. These and many others were eager to offer biblical, historical and theological insights into the challenges of gender. England is also central to our symposium partners, Women and the Church of England (WATCH) and Men, Women and God (which is also active in India). Together we planned, prayed and waited to see how God would move. And, move he did!
As people arrived from all over the world we quickly realized that our gender symposium was God-given. Old friendships were rekindled; new friendships blossomed; book tables teamed with people; the dining halls were filled with happy voices; and we worshipped together like those who had known each other for years. The mood was high, eyes were bright, and minds were bursting with cutting-edge scholarship. The joy of our fellowship was simply uncontainable. Despite our many concerns, God had indeed called us to work as global partners.
Though separated by distance physically and culturally, those who attended the UK gender symposium were like old friends; like those who understand that one of the most critical concerns facing the church is gender. Just as God united abolitionists from many continents years ago, we too are joined by God’s Spirit because we see the same truth, work toward the same goal, and challenge similar assumptions. Together we are developing a consistent, biblical message on gender for the church, home and society. For nearly three days we drank deeply from the Scriptures, from God’s Spirit, and from the gifts of one another. But it seemed England was only the beginning.
Just before our conference ended, I was asked by our delegates from India to consider standing with them as they worked to host a similar symposium in their country. As they developed a list of topics to explore, I thanked God that our resolve to move beyond the shores of America encouraged and inspired important leaders like these. They too will move beyond cultural barriers within their own country for the sake of the Gospel. We are looking forward to working together to hold a conference in Bangalore in 2006.
To make the UK symposium complete, our beloved friend Lily Lee announced the publication of her new book. Lily Lee, Dora Wang and Cecilia Yau edited our first book in Chinese, and they have just completed a second book, which will be featured on our Web and celebrated at our 2005 conference in Pennsylvania.
As we partner with Christians around the globe, please join me in thanking our Lord for the privilege of building a Church that engages the gifts of men and women from many shores. Pray with me also, that our international partnerships will be guided by Christ, bringing him glory. Thank you!