2016 is the 3rd year that The Junia Project has been blogging about egalitarian theology and mutuality. As we look back over this last year, we realize there is so much to be thankful for! Here are 7 things we wanted to highlight…
1. Missio Alliance held the SheLeads 2016 Conference
We had a blast co-hosting SheLeads LA! What an amazing time with so many talented leaders! It’s truly refreshing to be in the room with so many female pastors and church leaders. My favorite part was the panel of pastors – these women are inspiring!
2. More and more women became lead pastors!
We have received more emails and comments this year about women becoming lead pastors than in previous years. Of particular note in the SoCal area are Tara Beth Leach at Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene & Colleen Hurley-Bates at Santa Barbara Free Methodist. These are flagship churches in the Southern California area, and what an encouragement it is to see these incredible women lead these congregations!
3. Bent Tree Bible Fellowship changed their stance to allow women to freely serve without restriction
Bent Tree is a mega church out of Texas. This year, their elder board and pastoral staff went on a journey to study what scripture had to say about women leading in the Church. After studying, they unanimously decided to change their stance to allow women to lead in any capacity! Check out this video to hear from their elders and pastor on this change (warning – it may make you cry).
4. Whittier Area Community Church voted to allow women to lead the elder board
Whittier Area was reevaluating their stance of not allowing women to serve as chair & vice chair of their elder board, as well as lead pastor. The congregation voted to allow women to serve as chair & vice chair of the elder board! And although the majority of people who voted wanted women to be allowed to serve as lead pastor, this change needed to have a majority of the congregation show up to vote and they didn’t quite get that. Although I’m sure many are disappointed in the result, we celebrate the progress they have made – it is no small thing!
5. Partnering with Dr. Ron Pierce
One of the things I am most thankful for this year was being asked to assist Dr. Ron Pierce (editor of Discovering Biblical Equality) in one of the events leading up to Whittier Area Community Church’s vote. WACC (his home church) held a “theological dialogue” between egalitarians and complementarians so their congregation could learn more about the two beliefs.
I can’t quite describe how honored I was to be asked to partner with Dr. Pierce, but let’s just say that when I was young and I first started studying what the Bible had to say about women in the Church, I was comforted by the writings of Dr. Pierce. His writings taught to me that God created me as an equal and that I could lead and teach without restriction. How meaningful then, as an adult, to see that he really meant it.
You see, the complementarian team thought 2 male PhDs with academic posts would represent their side well, and Dr. Pierce instead chose to partner with me – a young woman with no PhD & no academic post – because he said that God speaks through me. It’s just one of the reasons I am so proud to be egalitarian, because the founders of the movement whole heartedly believe in women and they live it out, even when the stakes are high.
6. Invitations to speak
This year we are thankful for all the speaking invitations that were extended to us. It has been a year of widening the Junia circle and spreading the message of mutuality! We were honored to be invited to speak at the Santa Barbara Missions Conference, Fellowship Monrovia, Greenville College, Whittier Area Community Church, Olive Branch Community Church, and Foothill Free Methodist Church. We are also thankful to plan more events for next year including a Women’s Theology Night at Azusa Pacific University and a Leadership conference in San Diego. More on those to come!
7. You, our readers and contributers!
This has been a crazy year for the Junia admin team. Despite our personal journeys of cancer, getting married, job transitions, and moving, Junia readers have continued to read, interact, and spread the word. Because of YOU the good work continued, despite crazy things happening in our lives. We cannot thank you all enough! What a team we all are in this!