Invite Her to the Table

Posted by on Monday, Jul 20, 2015 in Blog | 7 comments

In August of 2008 I became the first female to preach from the pulpit at Irving Bible Church. Our church’s decision to invite a woman to preach was not well received by some of our brother and sister churches. They sounded the alarm of our church “going liberal” to the local newspaper and TV channels. We decided it best to have Bryan stand by as my body-guard for the three services in which I preached. It took time but things did die down, although I continue to pay a price for my decision. Some folks no longer invite me to speak. Often I’m asked to clarify my position on women or Scripture. Once a senior pastor asked, “What do you think of Scripture?” “Um, I like it. In fact I spend most of my days studying it!” Just this week a young seminarian declined a job with The Marcella Project because she may lose future ministry opportunities by aligning her voice with mine. Truth is – she might. There are consequences. It takes courage. Risk. (I’m resolute that Jesus is worth it.) I spent the next several years at IBC preaching, teaching and training other women to do the same. When I was introduced to Betsy I knew she had the gift of preaching.In fact I was pretty sure she would be the next women preaching from that stage. I told her so. Made her a bit nervous. She wasn’t sure where she stood on women’s issue. I responded, “Well, you better figure it out because the opportunity is going to come and you’ve got to be sure of what you believe.” She borrowed books and dug in – and over time determined the Scriptures gave her freedom to preach under the leadership of her church. She’s been preaching at IBC ever since. Until now. Last night was her last sermon on that stage – at least for a while. She’s taking a break to concentrate on her full-time corporate job. She requested the night of preaching end at our table – the place where our friendship flourished. We ate. Drank wine. Laughed. We talked about why it’s crucial that women preach. That it made the body of Christ more healthy and whole. It was profound listening to our brothers share how they had been impacted by women preaching. It changed them. For better. Women helped them see Scriptures and see Jesus in different ways. And walking along side these female preachers changed how they came to view their sisters. They recognized they needed them at the table. Their presence made them better. The Church better. It was a beautiful to hear one man say, “Betsy, I want to preach...

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A Call To Men

Posted by on Tuesday, Jul 7, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Watch this and ponder how we are raising our men. If you’d like to read a book on the subject check out “The Men We Long to Be: Beyond Lonely Warriors and Desperate...

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It’s My Turn to Listen & Learn

Posted by on Wednesday, Jun 17, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I’m in Washington DC attending the Sojourner’s Summit at Catholic University. We start tonight with dinner and a casual reception with all the attendees and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Don’t freak, even though we are in DC, it’s not a political conference. Not sure I could handle that. Each year Sojourners invites 300 men and women from around the country to attend the Summit. The goal is to have people who fight for justice to meet, connect, listen, and learn from each other. It’s one of those times when I secretly think, “Why did they invite me?” I don’t ask, I’m just glad to sneak in under the radar. The first night always starts with a person from the House (Senator or Congressman/woman) speaking on a particular justice issue. Right out of the gate my mind is broadened and my eyes opened wider. Sometimes when I attend conferences like this I can start to wonder why Jesus just doesn’t put an end to all this evil and destruction. Just come Lord Jesus come. It’s hard to listen to the injustices of the world over and over again. And yet, we must otherwise we become numb and complacent. We have to keep going to the well and hear what breaks the heart our Savior. It’s here Jesus will join me as I sit, listen and learn – and he will speak to me – personally. About me. About how I live. About how I give. About The Marcella Project. And about his heart. I love these times with Jesus. I thought you might like to see just a few of the classes he and I will be attending. Implicit Bias – where we’ll explore the historical, theological, and structural impact of implicit bias in society and in the church. The Implicit Biases of Our Theology – how might we help churches, seminaries and Christian organizations see that the witness of Scripture points away from the logic of empire to an indigenous and communal way? We Will Speak Out – joining together to end the silence around sexual and gender based violence. The Art of Story – We will be discussing how to embody our message of justice, equality and spiritual wholeness within the art of story. A Holy Alliance – Women and men against gender-based violence. The Mask You Live In: A film screening and panel discussion about the messages boys face that encourage them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women and girls and resolve conflicts through violence. I’ll keep you posted on how my time with Jesus...

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Disoriented: Noodlings From The UN

Posted by on Wednesday, Mar 25, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

Probably most informative and encouraging at the UN Commission on the Status of Women was the session on “Religious Fundamentalism Gender Equality & Development.” A panel of speakers addressed the rise of fundamentalism within all major faiths. (Christian, Islam, Buddhist, and Judaism). “Fundamentalism, they argued, rises out of deprivation (and disorientation).” Fundamentalism provides very certain answers, very clear (and rigid) roles and laws (dress codes enforce this). When it is “full blown” it dehumanizes (excludes) those who don’t follow the rules and roles. When you exclude certain people from humanity they become expendable (as evidenced with ISIS and Boko Haram). I’m thankful I live in American at a time in history where American Fundamentalism isn’t “full blown.” But the seminar did make me question those churches I know who have such rigid rules, dress codes and role distinctions. I wondered if those churches were a reaction to a time of disorientation from the women’s movement, science, the industrial revolution etc. I’ve read several of Dr. Michael Kimmel’s books on men and masculinity. (Dr. Kimmel is considered one of the leading researchers on the subject). Kimmel states the women’s movement left men disoriented because women took on characteristics that had traditionally been defined as male qualities. Men haven’t known how to redefine themselves – yet. This maybe an indicator as to why male driven churches like Mars Hill (under the leadership of Mark Driscoll) drew such crowds. The panelists gave suggestions on how to break the chokehold of fundamentalism. One was to support those within the local community who are progressive in their thoughts and actions. Another was to offer theological conversations where people can become informed and make informed decisions about a particular theological issue. The example given was “divorce” within Islamic fundamentalists. The idea was to dialogue about how the Koran addressed the issue and share different Imam’s interpretations of such passages. The dialogue is a way to provide the people with different opinions and allow them to come to their own conclusions. My heart leaped. WE DO THAT! I wanted to scream. We have salons for this very reason. It was so encouraging to be in such a big place with important people tackling a large issues and knowing in the middle of all that big – Jesus works in the small....

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Blessed Alliance: Noodlings From The UN

Posted by on Monday, Mar 23, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I spent four days in a place I didn’t belong – the UN Commission on the Status of Women. (CSW59). It’s a two-week event where dignitaries, politicians and international organizations, men and women of every color and language, from around the world gather at the UN to discuss gender justice. My contribution? I listened and learned. Several years back Steve was invited to the White House for a discussion on “faith based initiatives.” At the door – as he was leaving I reminded him, “You have so much to bring to the table.” Later he called and calmly stated, “I got nothing. The people walking these halls are brilliant. I’m here to listen and learn.” That’s how I feel while I’m at the this annual gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New york. I just listen and learn, if I could only find the place where they are speaking. The UN is a sprawling complex that’s not well labeled and with few workers to advise lost souls like me. When I finally find my room, well – sometimes it’s already full. Most of the time I squeeze in and sit crisscross applesauce on the floor (in my long black skirt!) A male Albanian official spoke on government policies promoting gender justice such as social welfare checks given to mothers only. It seems when men received the checks they spent the money on booze or gambling, women spent it on clothes and food. “So the checks need to follow the women.” The question was raised that this might put women in jeopardy (in Albania 1 out of 2 women experience domestic violence in their life time.) His response, “We have found the opposite. Men have more respect for women with money and power.” He and others continued to stress the need for us to “worry less about strategy and instead focus on implementation at the village level.” What happens at the UN is only as good as it’s trickle down effect in the local community. And there I was – in the middle of the big REALLY BIG – and sweet Jesus was talking to me, through an Albanian, about the small things. The Marcella Project may be unknown by most but there it was -in bright neon letters in my head- our work of ennobling women. I believe our work is all about change, of hearts, minds, thinking, tradition, at the village level, practical change. An Indian woman shared how her village campaigned young boys in order to raise awareness about the tradition of child brides. Once the boys were aware of the bondage it placed on young girls they began to argue with their parents about selling...

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