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When I was a confirmation student, my pastor took a motley crew of 12 teenagers on a tour of Luther Seminary, in Minneapolis. As I walked into the seminary, my eyes widened. My heart thudded and I heard God speak to me clearly, “You are called to this, my child.” For years I harbored those words deep in my heart. It wasn’t considered “cool” to want to go into ministry, and my mother’s words about a high school friend — “She’s so smart! Why would she go into ministry?” — rang in my ears. Read more
In the first century church, Paul and his fellow workers fought mightily for the Lord. Many Christians then — and throughout the following centuries — suffered persecution, loss, torment and death to serve the Lord and proclaim the gospel message: Christ has died for our sins; he is our salvation, our redeemer and our most holy Lord. But today, the Church itself persecutes some Christians simply for believing God equally gifts men and women. These persecuted Christians believe so earnestly in the truth of biblical equality that they are willing to stand firm and accept loss rather than turn their backs on that belief. For over a decade, Christians for Biblical Equality has bestowed Priscilla and Aquila awards upon those who have stood firm in their convictions. • Joe and Audra Trull, who accepted early retirement from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary rather than agree with the Southern Baptists 1998 “Family Statement,” which stated that women were to “graciously submit” to their husbands. • Dan Gentry and Barbara Kent, who resigned their positions at a Southern Baptist seminary after they were asked to sign the new statement. • Alan Brehm, a New Testament professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, resigned his professorship rather than sign his name to the statement. Read more
CBE has recently become the subject of unexpected news coverage. Our ministry has been featured in publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Associated Baptist Press. That these stories have led to numerous radio shows is both exciting, and somewhat curious. Why are the leaders of religious news so interested in CBE? Read more
Life sometimes comes in shock waves. A marriage teetering between life and death. A child born to an unmarried teenage daughter. A job loss. A notice of house foreclosure. A middle-of-the-night chaplain’s visit bearing the news of a son’s death. Sometimes life can be too much. Within two years Karen had endured each of these shock waves. When it seemed the hurt could not go any deeper, it managed to seep through whatever remaining façade of togetherness Karen could fake. And then her 23-year-old son — her only son — died. Out in the familiar Michigan countryside near the property of a dear friend, Karen walked. Soon family and friends would be coming to bury the ashes of her son under a sapling that would be planted at the service. Alone in the place that had nurtured her through the years, Karen cried out to God, “You’re still here, aren’t you?”  A butterfly fluttered near her chest. Then it flew away, circling back and coming close several times in the next few minutes. God, through creation, reminded Karen that yes, he was still very present. This butterfly experience may seem coincidental and perhaps strange. Theologically, can we affirm that God answers a mother’s cry with a butterfly? There is at least one realm in which this experience will be taken seriously, even welcomed — a spiritual direction session. In this context, I have found there is freedom to examine life — the best of it and the worst of it — and look for evidence of God. Read more
Americans lead busy lives, and Vanessa Chitwood was no exception. Since the beginning of her marriage, Chitwood had worked to part-time as a nurse support her growing family. She also enjoyed volunteering at her local church. Still, she felt God wanted more from her. “There were areas of my life I kept under my own control. God was speaking to me about the need to give everything to him.” One day in 1996 she pulled her car into a parking lot and breathed a prayer of complete surrender to God. Eighteen months later Chitwood felt called to full-time ministry, but uncertainties kept her silent. It was not a direction she would have imagined for herself. “I kept these feelings to myself for about a year, thinking I was crazy, but the desire to serve just grew deeper, and in 1998 I acknowledged the call to my family and pastor and the process began.” Read more
Editor’s Note: Mary Katherine Campbell, a 60-year-old veteran missionary to Togo, West Africa, and a cancer survivor, returned to her field of service on Sept. 3, using her savings and contributions from friends. Campbell was one of the missionaries terminated by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board for not signing the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. She wrote this letter to family and friends explaining her situation. I was among the nearly 100 foreign missionaries who could not in good conscience sign the oath of affirmation of the revised 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Many of my colleagues in our worldwide missionary force of 5,000-plus were able to sign it; some gladly, some reluctantly. Among those of us unable to sign, most either resigned or took early retirement, but 13 held out until “termination” was voted on May 7, 2003, by the board of trustees. Why couldn’t I sign the document? For 18 months, my mind and heart churned with the doctrinal changes made to the statement and the motivation behind the request to affirm it. I listened to colleagues as we debated it and the so-called “statement of accountability,” and read everything I could about the arguments, pro and con. I prayed, read scripture and sought God’s will for my own life. I reviewed the changes made in my beloved Southern Baptist Convention during the last 20-plus years, and I deeply resented the more recent accusations of heresy against the missionaries made by some of the current Southern Baptist leaders. I listened to respected colleagues say, “Just sign the piece of paper and go on with your work.” But I couldn’t honestly do that. Read more
This is a letter Ron Hankins wrote after the International Mission Board ordered missionaries to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Over 27 years ago, I came to Japan with the International Mission Board as a journeyman. Here I met another journeyman — Lydia Barrows, the woman I would later marry. As God led us both into full-time Christian service, we returned to the United States, got married and headed for seminary. After graduation, we were both ordained in Lydia’s home church into the “full gospel ministry.” Each of us was appointed to Japan as a “general evangelist” to start and lead churches. There wasn’t a “church and home” designation for Lydia — she was called by God and trained by Southern Baptists to be a church starter and pastor. Read more
Persecution and injustice are expected in a fallen world. Yet, finding the right way to deal with hurtful situations can still be difficult, says spiritual director Lola Scobey. “Persecution because of beliefs in biblical equality can challenge a person’s deepest sense of self and self-worth,” says Scobey. “A constant barrage of views historically held by some church groups ... can undermine a person’s confidence in both their personhood and their viewpoints.” Many emotions can be expected. Among them are anger, hatred, sadness, resentment, self-doubt, derailment, fear and hopelessness, says Scobey. “[D]ifferent strategies are required to deal with each of these negative emotions,” says Scobey. However, she adds that there are six fundamentals for dealing with any negative emotion. Read more
Seven years ago, just a few quarters shy of college graduation, I discovered the cost of my belief in biblical equality. I chose to ask questions and push boundaries, but those actions had consequences. This fall, thousands of students across the country started their freshman years at Christian colleges. Ten years ago, I was one of them. As a journalism student, my experience was probably quite different from what the majority of my peers experienced. Journalists are trained to observe, to notice incongruities and to question. And while these characteristics won the respect and friendship of a few professors and staff members at the school, we journalists also gained enemies — particularly among the administration. Read more
How do we forward the cause of biblical equality? The same way wise people forward any other cause: Understand to whom you are speaking and/or writing. What are their interests? What do they feel strongly about? What do they understand about their own position or yours? Read more

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