On a warm Sunday evening in August, my daughter and I drove out to the Brethren-in-Christ Church in Upland, California, so she could record an interview about the role of women in the church for a gathering called “Listen”.
Although she had a general idea of what the interview would be like, she did not have the questions ahead of time and had to come up with answers on the spot, in front of a live audience. The interview went well and sparked a lot of conversation, in fact, the time ran out before the questions did, and so a second interview was scheduled for later this month. Click below to listen to part one of the podcast.
“To tell the story of women is to tell a fuller story of the church. The church doesn’t just look like one people group in race or ethnicity or culture or gender. It looks like all of us…Taking the time to look at the women in scripture -where are they and where have we maybe accidentally left them out- helps us to more accurately and more completely preach.” Kate Wallace
Sitting in the audience during the podcast was a profound experience for me as Kate’s mom. And I sat there thinking a lot can happen in just a few years.
It was not that long ago that she was doubting God’s love for her after some very painful interactions with friends who doubted her love for God because of her egalitarian views.
It was not that long ago that she and I began studying the Bible from Genesis to Revelation to see what God really says about women, and we were amazed at what we could learn by studying through a “gender lens”.
It was not that long ago that we were beseeching the Lord about what our response should be to the gender injustices women experience inside and outside of the church.
It was not that long ago that a group of fifty men and women met in our home on a Friday night in April of 2013 and discovered the value of having a safe space to talk about our theology of gender.
These are some of the experiences that contributed to the birth of The Junia Project on August 28th, 2013. And in the space of a year, we have discovered that God is moving in the hearts of men and women all around the world, encouraging them to lift up and empower his daughters in the church.
In The Black Swan Effect, Felicity Dale writes:
“A groundswell is rising that could become one of the next waves of the Holy Spirit. Someday, the idea that women are created for only subservient roles will seem as outdated as the notion of slavery…The church in the West is in crisis—it is losing membership, baptisms are declining, denominations are shrinking, and Christian values are no longer normative. What if an enhanced understanding of the role of women could help the church thrive again?”
Certainly opening leadership doors for women and empowering them to step through with excellence will be good for the church.
But not only can women help the church to thrive, the church has the potential to help women thrive as well. In a world that is downright dangerous for many women, the church brings the good news that Christ came to restore all things, including the gender equality that existed at creation.
This is only good news for women if the church lives this truth out within its own walls – if we can get on with being a priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:4-10) and a new community without distinctions based on ethnicity, class, or gender (Galatians 3:28). As Margaret Mowczko notes in Role or Rank, “The body of Christ should function as a unity, and not a social hierarchy”.
Over the summer I read through the book of Isaiah and this verse has stayed with me: “Build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people” (Isaiah 57:14.) That is our call at The Junia Project – to prepare the road and to remove the obstacles that are in the way of God’s people, both male and female, so that they can live out their life mission to the fullest.
We covet your prayers and support as we move into our second year of advocacy. We’re excited about adding two student interns, moving the website to a more robust internet platform, and introducing you to some new voices on the blog. There have been many blessings on this journey, not the least of which has been getting to know YOU – our faithful community of writers and readers.
Thanks for being on this journey with us! We couldn’t do this without you.
Some stats from The Junia Project’s first year online:
- 147 posts written by 30+ contributors
- the site gets an average of 1300 page views a day
- readers come from 120 countries
- our audience is 65% women and 35% men
- 35% of you are in the 25-40 year old age range
- 444,208 total website page views to date
- 3356 Facebook followers
- 1181 Twitter followers
YOUR TURN: If you’ve been with us on this journey over the past year, we’d love to hear your reflections. What have you learned from participating in this online community?
Check out LISTEN here: http://www.whylisten.org/
Latest posts by Gail Wallace (see all)
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- The Women Who Stood Near the Cross - April 14, 2017