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Published Date: May 26, 2010

Published Date: May 26, 2010

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Making Women Visible!

Though she was only in her mid-twenties, her journalistic achievements were impressive. An award-winning writer, her passion to make known the challenges Christian women face in using their gifts had won national acclaim. To acquire additional skills, she attended a conference for Christian writers. Passionate to learn from her colleagues, she was delighted to find herself seated next to a leader in journalism. He was gracious and kind, and he was interested in her writing pursuits. When he learned of her focus, he seemed to question whether the gender debate was irrelevant to Christians today. What is more, he wondered out loud whether married couples like himself think through gender roles, at a theoretical level. For him, the gender conversation had little impact on everyday life. In many ways his statement is understandable. 

Gender and authority may seem immaterial if you are part of a culture in which your decisions, vocational opportunities, and most intimate relationships are in no way infringed upon because of it. However, if you are part of a church, marriage, or organization in which Scripture—the highest authority in determining decisions—is interpreted as to deny you, because of your gender, a voice in decisions that impact your life and vocation, then, it is very much an issue!

Moreover, several of the largest evangelical denominations continue to deliberate the biblical basis for women’s shared authority with men, which does indeed suggest that gender is a relevant issue. To work in journalism and to suppose otherwise is confusing. It would be like a white American declaring race irrelevant during the middle of the civil rights movement. It may not be an issue for white people, but what of the millions of individuals who were routinely denied a place at the voting booth, restaurant counter, bathroom, drinking fountain, and pulpit because of their skin color. Those in positions of privilege may not wish to explore the issues, but by doing so they miss an opportunity to be a prophetic and empathic voice to many.

This surprising exchange brought home, in real ways, the whole matter of Christian leadership—one which creates room for others, especially those who are different from oneself. This is a topic CBE will explore in greater detail, at our 2011 conference to be held in Seattle, Washington July 29-31. I just spoke with MaryKate Morse, professor at George Fox Seminary, who has agreed to speak at this event. Dr. Morse’s book Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence will have a prominent place at CBE’s 20th international conference. If you’re looking for a good book for summer reading, I highly recommend this one to you.

If traveling to Seattle next summer seems too far away, consider joining CBE outside Chicago on September 25, 2010. In partnership with our Greater Chicago Chapter, we cordially invite you to a one-day conference entitled “Women and Christian History: Building on a Legacy.” Speakers include Gilbert Bilezikian, Lynn Cohick, Dorothy Irvin, Alan Johnson, and more! Join us as we make visible those whose gifts and leadership have changed the world.

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