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Published Date: December 30, 2015

Published Date: December 30, 2015

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Growing Conversations on Gender, Power, and Faith in 2015

CBE’s passion to see girls and women liberated led us to amazing global work in 2015! I invite you to walk with me through these memories, celebrating God’s faithfulness to CBE’s community, mission, and partnerships.

After teaching “Women in Church History and Theology” at Fuller Theological Seminary in Houston in January, I received an invitation to join the Human Rights Defender Forum at the Carter Center. There, activists and religious leaders from around the world developed strategies to elevate the status of women and girls globally. We also closely examined the influence of faith leaders on women’s equality.

Because of our shared commitment to a religious text, I joined an Islamic feminist forum in Egypt, where I presented a Christian worldview that acknowledges patriarchy as a consequence of sin.

At the forum, Islamic feminists disclosed how they have also suffered the marginalization of women’s contributions throughout history, a selective reading of a sacred text that depicts males as more morally and spiritually pure, and a theology that creates separate spheres for men and women, excluding females from public and sacred work.

While in Egypt, CBE distributed journals and copies of the Arabic translation of Still Side by Side. We also donated books and journals to an evangelical seminary in Jordan and the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo.

Our bags were still bulging with resources as we headed for Kenya, our next stop. There, we joined a conference on “Dowry Payment for Marriage as a Religious and Cultural Practice in Africa.” CBE worked beside pastors, lay leaders, and theological educators to assess the positive and negative impact of dowries on women and society.

While in Kenya, CBE visited several schools where our contextualized curriculum, Called Out,
is being used. In partnership with EFOGE International, students from nearly twenty public schools explored God’s call to love, respect, and value girls. Here is what two students had to say:

Julia (17): “Women are not recognized and permitted to be church leaders and even to read the Bible because they are perceived to be dirty due to monthly blood cycle and that women are unwise like Eve; with Genesis story of creation that Eve betrayed Adam in the Garden of Eden by eating and giving Adam forbidden fruit that brought sin into the world. Because of ‘Youth & Gender classes’ in the school, I learnt basic truth of the bible on gender, and how misinterpretation is misleading many women to hate and not believe of themselves.”

Michael (16): “Attending biblical lessons in school here has helped me to understand why there is gap between boys and girls, women which to me is socially constructed by my society and not God. I’ve learnt that God created both male and female equal and given the same dominion to work together, side by side in all things. I’ve learned to respect my sisters and fellow female students in school and live together as equal human beings. When I get married in future, I will respect and love my wife as equal partner.”

From the lake that flows into the Nile in Kenya to its end in Alexandria, hearts and minds welcomed God’s liberation of girls and women. Many of these leaders joined us in Los Angeles for our 2015 international conference, “Becoming New: Man and Woman Together in Christ.”

At the conference, Eugene Cho, Ken Fong, Adelita Garza, John Stackhouse, Anne Zaki, and many other speakers considered newness of life in Christ in their own context. Prayers and meditation were led by leaders from Asia, Kenya, Lebanon, and Tanzania.

Immediately following the conference, eleven global leaders considered strategies for future egalitarian momentum. Attendees called the conference “an entry way into healing,” “a beautiful and redeeming experience,” and “a huge blessing.”

Before the summer was officially over, CBE joined colleagues in Campbellsville, Kentucky. There, we led convocation at Campbellsville University (CU), formerly a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) affiliate university. CU recently joined CBE as an organizational member, forgoing the monetary benefits afforded SBC affiliate schools, to honor their conviction that gender equality is indeed a biblical ideal.

I spoke to classrooms, administrators, and students and addressed audiences assembled for the Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy forum. CU students expressed an interest in launching a CBE student chapter to enlarge the conversation on biblical gender equality and the university endowed an annual lectureship in honor of CBE.

As colleges around the country resumed classes, CBE was on the road again leading forums at Boston College, chapel at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, and a public lecture sponsored by Fuller Theological Seminary in Colorado Springs.

While in Colorado Springs, I met with a group of female pastors who found new community with each other, so much so, that they plan to continue meeting in the future. Before leaving Colorado, I had the pleasure of working with a Christian foundation interested in exploring biblical gender equality with their constituents. Their vision has inspired other foundations to consider similar projects!

This year, CBE engaged seven interns from schools such as Bethel University and Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary. Our Princeton intern, Emily Zimbrick-Rogers, left an extraordinary legacy in her high school curriculum, God, Sex, and You and in her qualitative study of women in the evangelical academy. Emily presented her findings at CBE’s LA conference and published her research in an article entitled, “A Question Mark Over My Head,” included in the 2015 CBE special edition journal sent to all Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) members.

Zimbrick-Rogers also presented her research in a lecture at ETS. The lecture was well-attended, stimulating questions like “does this data suggest institutional abuse of women at the ETS?” and “how can men work beside women in creating a welcome for God’s gifts to women scholars?”

Emily’s data raised a focused examination of social and exegetical assumptions and incited new concern for biblical ethics and the spiritual climate within the evangelical academy. To hear read more about CBE’s work at ETS see “Iron Sharpens Iron At ETS 2015.

While I and others were on the road, CBE staff were busy developing award-winning resources. CBE journals received four EPA publishing awards this year for:

Jenny Rae Armstrong’s On Being a Woman After God’s Own Heart

Samuel C. Long’s The Book of Ruth as an Exemplar for Faith Communities

H. Edgar Hix’s Mother and A Grave

CBE’s bookstore developed ten new resources, including a five-lecture series, Is Gender Equality a Biblical Ideal? Several Christian colleges are now using this resource in their courses. Other new resources for 2015 include:

Biblical Gender Equality: A Summary

The Word Embodied (young adult curriculum) forthcoming

God, Sex, and You (high school curriculum) forthcoming

Still Side by Side







We also added three new translations—Tanzanian Swahili, Burmese, and Tamil—of CBE’s founding document, “Statement on Men, Women and Biblical Equality,” to our website.

From Los Angeles to Alexandria, to Campbellsville, to Fuller Theological Seminary, to East Africa and beyond, biblical gender equality is igniting hearts. Each project builds on another and each partner brings momentum in their own context—in new languages and communities.

All of this was made possible by the power of Christ and our dear friends and colleagues who have walked with us each step of the way. We stand at the end of 2015, looking ahead, inviting you to walk us once again. Please join hands with CBE as we create much-needed resources in 2016:

Marriage curriculum: Because marriage is ground zero for biblical gender equality, we have launched a partnership with marriage professionals to publish the first-ever egalitarian marriage curriculum for Christian churches and small groupsThe cost is $40,000 and we raised about half in 2015.

Gender-based violence (GBV): CBE will host “Truth be Told”—our 2016 conference—in Johannesburg, South Africa to end gender-based violence. CBE will work with local leaders to consider resources and strategies to enlarge the biblical conversation on gender equality in areas where GBV is most prevalent. The cost is $25,000 and we have over $18,000 left to raise in 2016.

Student curriculum: Students and academics turn to CBE for resources and curriculum on biblical gender equality. We’ve completed new youth curricula for high school and college students. All we need to do is contextualize, publish, and distribute these widely. The cost for producing new youth curricula is $4,100.

Publishing glad tidings widely: CBE’s impact is the result of a talented and devoted staff and a comprehensive digital infrastructure. These are our most costly expense and our most valuable resource! Yet, our extensive website needs updating. With these updates, CBE can engage many new people with the very resources they most need. The cost is $10,500.2015 was a breathtaking glimpse at God’s passion for the dignity, value, and equality of girls and women. Given the global exploitation of females, the church stands at a crucial junction. Will we read Scripture consistently, fairly, and without a patriarchal lens? Lives hang in the balance quite literally, and the dignity of the gospel deserves our tenacious efforts. The journey is challenging, but the joy is ineffable.

We look forward to working beside you in the coming year.