A Mother’s Dream by Missy Ward Angalla

Missy EveWar and genocide came to Eve’s village when she was just a teenager. Her world as she knew it was turned upside down. Eve and her family were forced to flee. Like so many women in our world, Eve never had the opportunity to attend school (women make up 2/3 of the population of illiterate people in our world according to the UN). Eve married at a young age and had two beautiful daughters named Lily and Jenny. She dreamed that one day her daughters would have the opportunity to attend school.

Eve moved to Uganda three years ago as a refugee and enrolled in English classes at our refugee community center. Unfortunately, Eve was continually verbally and physically abused by her husband. In the spring of 2013, Eve’s husband called her to inform her that he was divorcing her and no longer supporting her, Lily, or Jenny. Dismayed and desperate, Eve made a twenty-four-hour bus ride to attempt to reconcile with her husband. For the next eight months, her husband continually abused her. Then war started again in her area. Eve described hearing gunshots for several days. Some of these shots were right outside of her door. During this time, she was afraid for the her life and for the life of her daughters. She would lay on top of them to protect them and pray to Jesus who she had learned was the prince of peace and a God who loved and gave grace.

Through God’s provision, Eve found a way back to Uganda in January of this year. She was severely traumatized and discouraged. We met regularly to pray together and talk about things. In May, Eve was invited to participate in our women’s empowerment  program. She had the opportunity to receive individual and group counseling, discipleship through nightly Bible study, English, life skills, and vocational and business training. Eve went through a significant period of healing and transformation. She loved learning about the Bible and excelled in her business and vocational training classes. Still, she continued to struggle with not being able to fully afford paying for her daughter’s school fees. She shared with a women’s ministry staff,  “ I regret not being with my husband. I wish I endured the beatings. At least my girls would be able to be in school. I cannot support them.” Eve sold all of the jewelry that she had in order to enroll her girls in school. She is a mother who is determined to give her girls the opportunity for an education that she never had.

Missy girlsIn the last month and a half, after transitioning from the program, Eve has successfully found ,a job and is now in safe housing. Still, her monthly wages are only enough to be able to afford transportation, food and rent for her family. At the end of July, a group of children from a church in Gainesville, Georgia, raised money during their VBS to help pay for Lily and Jenny’s school fees. Thanks to their hard work and generosity, Lily and Jenny will be able attend school during the upcoming term. I had the privilege of sharing this news with Eve one day last week. As I shared, tears came to my eyes as I saw this heavy burden being lifted off of Eve’s shoulders. A huge smile came across her face. She immediately wrapped her arms around me and said “Oh thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!! I am so happy!!!!

I am deeply grateful to those who have made it possible for Eve to attend the Women’s Empowerment program where she gained a deeper understanding of God’s love, hope, grace, and purpose for her life. I am also deeply grateful for the group of children from across the world who have now made it possible for Lily and Jenny to attend school, an opportunity not afforded to so many girls in our world.

 God has provided through this group of children. Thanks to God’s provision, Eve’s dreams for her daughters has now come true.

Missy Ward Angalla serves in Uganda as a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel. She is the refugee women’s advocacy coordinator with Refuge and Hope International. This post first appeared on her blog, Missy in Uganda.

Playdough Hospitality by Brittany Riddle

On Sunday mornings I often begin the Sunday School hour by walking the hallways to say good morning to our classes and to catch any visitors who may be lost in our maze. I end my hallway tour in our two-year-old Sunday School class where they always play with Playdough while waiting for everyone to arrive.

Upon entering the room, sometimes I’m offered Playdough “pizza,” sometimes I help get the Playdough unstuck from its container, sometimes I help mash down the cookie cutter shapes when little hands can’t quite get it flat enough. I’m always guaranteed smiles, laughs, and a couple of hugs or high fives.

In addition to the usual fun, this past week, I also got a lesson in the theology of hospitality from these two-year-olds.

There was a girl visiting the class with her grandmother, and she wasn’t sure about letting Grandma leave. One of the other two-year-old girls around the table  had just made a pink dinosaur. She took the dinosaur over to the new girl , held it out and said, “pink dino?”, as if to offer it as a welcoming gift.  Then, she wasn’t sure about sharing her only pink dinosaur, so she went back to the table and made another one to give to the little girl sitting on Grandma’s lap. The new girl’s eyes lit up when she confirmed that pink was her favorite color, and she began to play with the pink dinosaur.

This was a very sweet moment of innocence, invitation and hospitality. The adults in the room couldn’t fully comfort and reassure the young girl with their words, but who wouldn’t want a pink dinosaur when they are feeling afraid?

I spent the rest of the morning reflecting on how we adults could learn from our pre-school friends. These children weren’t worried about whether or not they would look silly if the new girl didn’t want to play with them. They weren’t worried about what the others in the room would think. They weren’t worried they might say or do the wrong thing and make a bad first impression. They saw her sitting to the side and used the simple resources they had to welcome her in their own two-year-old way.

I’m always intrigued (and saddened) by our tendency in the church to not know what to do when we see someone we don’t know in our sanctuaries or Sunday School classes. We are afraid we will offend them if they are actually long-time church members whose faces are unfamiliar to us. We are afraid they might take time away from catching up with our already-made friends who are a part of our weekly church gatherings. We are afraid we will say the wrong thing when we introduce ourselves. We sometimes believe that if they didn’t grow up in our community or church that they probably won’t fit in or do church the way we have always known. We often make these decisions about people before we even ask their names. And so often, we say nothing.

These two-year-olds challenged me to more fully understand what it means to come to Jesus like a little child—hospitality without hesitation. To extend a warm welcome of invitation to the person who is on the outside of the inner circle. To offer a friendly gesture—or a pink dinosaur—to someone who is feeling lonely or left out. To say “hello” to a visitor who isn’t sure what to expect.

What is your pink dinosaur?

How do you welcome those who may be new to your church or circle of friends?

 

Brittany Riddle is the Minister to Adults at Vinton Baptist Church in Vinton, Virginia.

Brittany Riddle is the Minister to Adults at Vinton Baptist Church in Vinton, Virginia.

There’s Plenty by Tammy Abee Blom

Communion HandsAfter the holidays, many of us can easily voice with conviction all of the behaviors and mannerisms of our families that annoy us. Clarity of faults is the product of being with family over the holidays. However, I returned from my family’s gathering with gratitude for something they exhibit every time we gather. When my family hosts a meal, there is always a gracious plenty. The bounteous feast for all of us start with our big pots. Rather than cooking or baking small portions, we pull out the 13 x 9 casserole dishes and the large Dutch ovens. A crowd of at least thirty people is always expected, but we also know that many will bring guests. The first tenet of a gracious plenty is the commitment to bringing generous amounts to share. As I surveyed the buffet for our Christmas meal, I marveled at the gallon of green beans, quart of gravy, two hams, trays of cookies, and multiple layer cakes. My family prepares food for all who are expected to come, and for a few more, because we always welcome guests. In worship this past Sunday, one of the children whispered, “Are you serving communion today?” After I nodded, she said, “When I come up, can you give me a big piece of bread? I love communion, and the bread is good!” While communion is not about getting a big piece when a small piece will suffice, we may have forgotten how amazing it is to share in the graciousness of a meal. As I began to serve last Sunday, I calculated how much bread I had and the number of people to be served and realized there was more than enough to serve good-sized chunks. I watched as the children grinned when I gave them a big piece of bread, and I wasn’t surprised when some of the adults furrowed their brows at me for serving large portions. But we had plenty of bread, so why not give it in abundance? In this New Year, I am looking for the places where there is a gracious plenty, whether it is home cooked food or joy in the ritual of communion. I plan to take lots to share wherever I go. Where there is a gracious plenty, there are people who come with more than enough and are willing to share. I am thankful to the child at church who reminded me of the joy of getting a generous piece of bread and for my family who always cooks for all who come to eat. Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

Women Ministers by Dennis W. Foust

Dennis FoustIn 1991, at the conclusion of an evening of worship during one of the early meetings of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a woman was in tears sitting alone on the back pew of the sanctuary. I knew her and sat down on the pew in front of her just to offer a presence. As she gained her composure, she said, “Dennis, God has called me to serve the church. I have completed seminary and I am gifted for ministry. But, my home church refuses to ordain me.” I tried to offer encouragement, suggesting that she was a pioneer and that pioneers often move forward without the blessing of others, without being understood. Pioneers never live in structures already constructed by others. They make trails which others eventually find and follow.

This past Sunday, August 4, 2013, it was my blessing to gather with others in the sanctuary of Central Baptist Church, in Richmond, Virginia, for the ordination of Mary Beth Gilbert Foust, our daughter-in-law. She was set apart to a life of vocational and professional ministry through Christ’s church. Mary Beth is married to our son, Caleb. They both graduated from Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond this past spring. Along with her family and close friends, Paula and I have witnessed her commitment to a life of servitude, experienced her concern for the poor, discussed her call to vocational ministry, and noted her desire for congregations to pursue excellence. So, when Central Baptist approached Mary Beth to discuss ordination, it was no surprise to us.

Mary Beth Foust 1Last year, Mary Beth read scripture for Caleb’s ordination. Last Sunday, Caleb read scripture for her service. Laying hands on Mary Beth last Sunday were her sister, Katie, and her mother, Karen, both ordained ministers of the gospel and active members of Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM). BWIM emerged as an inspired idea in the spirits of some brave women in the 1970s and found its organizational legs in the early 1980s. Here is the rest of this story!

 On October 3-5, 1982, St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, hosted a national conference entitled, “Theology is a Verb.” One report during that conference was, Issues Affecting Women. As a result of that conference, wheels began to turn and soon thereafter, BWIM became an organization.

 One of the many wonderful characteristics about St. John’s is that the congregation is supportive of women ministers. In fact, long before most congregations of any denomination–and way ahead of most Baptists–St. John’s ordained women for ministry. Our church is so accustomed to women ministers that we cannot fathom why some narrow-minded congregations consider us to be odd at best or ungodly at worst for embracing women ministers.

So, last Sunday, as I worshipped God in Richmond, our associate minister, Martha Kearse, proclaimed from the St. John’s pulpit. And, last Sunday, as I walked forward to place my hands on Mary Beth’s head to offer a word of blessing, I also saw the face of my pioneer friend from twenty-two years ago. In fact, I saw her footprints on the trail which passed through St. John’s in 1982.

Shalom to all the pioneers out there and to all those who pick up their trail along the journey!

Dennis W. Foust is senior minister of St. John’s Baptist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina. 

What’s New to You? by Tammy Abee Blom

Tammy Abee Blom preachingEve whispered in my ear, “I am so disappointed.” I whispered back, “Me too. Should we get Audrey and go?”

As we left the penguin exhibit at the zoo, both girls were hurling complaints at me. They were riled at the presenter, who had arrived five minutes late, never acknowledged the crowd with a smile or a welcome, and then proceeded to talk in a hushed, monotone merely reciting what she had obviously recited to hordes of children before. The complaints were coming quickly, “We got there early.” “I couldn’t hear her.” “She said there were boys and girls. Which ones are the girls?”

The presenter lost an interested audience, who wanted to know all about penguins. Instead our presenter actually yawned widely during her presentation.

Leading Sunday School week after week can tempt me into boredom. Summer seems to be the time when I become automatic and routine. Lesson preparation feels like drudgery because I feel certain there is no new song, no new Bible story, no new craft or interesting game under the sun. I feel uninspired, and I feel like my well of good ideas has run dry. However, after my experience at the zoo, I realized how important it is to find the new twist, idea or concept in the Bible story so I can relate it to the children.

Having experienced first hand what it was like to have disappointed children, I want the children in my class to be inspired and engaged. To do this, I have begun asking myself, “What is new about this Bible story?” When I read the text in preparation for the lesson, I ask, “What didn’t I know or see before?” Once I have hit on the new to me idea, I get energy and enthusiasm for planning the craft and games. And better yet, I feel inspired to tell the Bible story.

Summer can feel long and dry. However when our congregants come to worship, it is our role to present the good news . . . without a monotone or a yawn. What’s new to you?

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

“It Seems that I Have Friends” by Jane Hull

Jane Hull PintlalaI am a Baptist minister but am currently serving as interim pastor of First Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ congregation, in Birmingham, Alabama. The transition to a Disciples church has been an easy one for me. Baptists and Disciples are very similar in theology and practice, but one major difference is that the Disciples observe communion every Sunday. It is led each week by church elders and is a beautiful portrait of laity leading in this most important element of worship in a Disciples church.

I am loving this interim pastor role and enjoying the opportunity to lead a church through the calendar year. For the most part, I am preaching the lectionary texts and working with the minister of music to design worship. In my past ministry positions, I had planned and helped with Lent, Holy Week, and Easter services, but now that Pentecost is quickly coming, I realized that this is my first time planning and leading a Pentecost service. I want to do this well. What to do?  What to do?

A few years back, Michael Douglas starred in the movie The American President. As president, Douglas made several attempts to buy flowers for his love interest, played by Annette Bening. Finally, in the last scene of the movie, she is carrying a bouquet of roses. When asked where he got the flowers, the president responded, “It seems I have a rose garden.” That is how I feel about Pentecost. It seems that I have friends who can help me.

Last week I emailed five of my women minister friends to ask for help with Pentecost planning: Amy Jacks Dean, Pam Durso, Karen Massey, Julie Pennington-Russell, and Mary Bea Sullivan. These are friends and colleagues whom I love and respect. Surely, they could help. I was not disappointed.

I once preached on Pentecost Sunday for at Park Road Baptist in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Amy is co-pastor. I knew she loved this Sunday. In her reply email to me, she wrote, “We always set the communion table ablaze—almost literally. We cover it with a red cloth and have tons and tons of red candles burning—tapers, fat candles, and tea candles—all shapes and sizes and heights. All red. It is gloriously beautiful. On our walkway that leads from the parking lot to the sanctuary, we put streamers mounted on boards of yellow, orange, and red tulle so that as you proceed down the walkway it feels as if you are walking through the flames.”

Karen, my worship professor at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia, suggested:  “Have persons who speak different languages read the Pentecost passage in Acts 2. I have had the text read in English, French, German, Greek, and Spanish. Have each person alternate reading a couple of passages. Then when you get to verses 17-18, have them all read those verses at the same time. It gives the flavor of all the many languages that were heard on that first Pentecost.”

My friend, Mary Bea, noted that in her Episcopal tradition, they often use a Taize chant, Veni, Sancti, Spiritus. I received all this and other advice from women whom I love and respect. As women, we are blessed with the resource that is our friends and colleagues. I encourage you to reach out for help but also to be a resource for each other. “It seems that I have friends who can help.” What a gift!

Jane Hull is interim pastor of First Christian Church, Birmingham, Alabama.

It Fees Like Home to Me . . . by Kristy Bay

Kristy Bay 1I have always had an abnormally sensitive sense of smell. I am the person who compliments friends on different lotions and perfumes, the one who can describe how each friend’s house has a distinct smell, and the one who can often guess which particular fragrance someone is wearing. Oh yeah, I am also the one who receives some pretty weird looks for saying things like, “Ooo, this tastes like the smell of Christmas” when I sipped my first Chai tea latte at Starbucks. I finally have received a little validation that I am not hopelessly weird from the scientific studies that have officially linked sense of smell and memories . . . . so yes, I have a Christmas lotion, a springtime perfume, a summer scent, because over time, certain fragrances remind me of specific memories.

Lest you think I’m crazy, the use of smells to bring back memories works on a lot of people. Many realtors put cookies in the oven, or set a pot of cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla, to boil when trying to sell a home. Why? Because certain smells just seem to evoke images of home. They can make you pause, inhale deeply, and think, “Yeah. This feels like home.”

As one who has journeyed far and wide to discover her calling, I have struggled throughout the years to describe how, exactly, I realized that I was called into ministry. The simplest way I can say it is that worship simply feels like home to me. I have served on staff at several different congregations, preached at many more, and attended all different styles of worship services. I have lived in three different states and traveled to eleven different countries, and I have worshipped in all those different locations. The one unifying element to all of my different settings and circumstances, other than the presence of a Starbucks, was no matter where I was worship felt like coming home.

All this sounded sort of strange . . . that is, until I was reminded of the scripture passages that describe fragrant offerings of worship . . . that tell of Christ being offered as a fragrant offering (Eph.5), or that tell us that we are the aroma of Christ in the world (2 Cor. 2). These verses helped me understand why I often go into a worship service, breathe in deeply, and feel as if I have come home. It is as if the presence of God is the smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven, and the act of worship is like catching that familiar whiff of grandma’s perfume. Those smells that remind me that I have come home—home to God’s welcoming embrace—no matter where I am geographically, spiritually, or emotionally.

Kristy Bay is associate pastor of youth and education, Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, Athens, Georgia.

 

My Daughter’s Baptism by Tammy Abee Blom

Audrey baptismAudrey was baptized on January 20, 2013. Back in the fall of 2012, she asked about why she had not been baptized and why she did not receive the bread and juice during communion. I told her about what it means to be a believer, to claim your faith, to decide that you want to follow Jesus. After several conversations, she shared, “You know I love God. I love Jesus in my heart. I want to be baptized.” And with that profession, I contacted our pastor for a date.

Now I am a Baptist at heart, and I had never envisioned that both my daughters would be baptized in the Methodist church. I had assumed our family would find a place among Baptists in South Carolina, but Baptists were not the family who welcomed us. Trinity United Methodist Church welcomed us with their worship, with their children’s ministries, and with the opportunity for me to participate by teaching Sunday school and leading in worship. We found our home at Trinity, and both my daughters found the words for professing faith at this church. So on January 20, the Trinity family celebrated Audrey’s baptism.

After the sermon, our pastor asked our family to stand with Audrey in front of banner which read, “Today God Spoke My Name–Audrey Irene.” Our pastor offered a prayer of blessing over the water and poured a generous amount into the font. And then, as our pastor and I had agreed, she asked Audrey these questions, “Do you believe in Jesus? Do you want to follow Jesus all your life? Do you want to be a part of this church?” With a determined and clear voice, Audrey answered, “I do” to each question. Rev. Jamieson-Ogg also asked Doug and me if we would nurture Audrey in her faith, and we agreed. Then, our pastor cupped water in her hands and poured the water over Audrey’s head as she said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Our pastor asked the church if they would welcome Audrey in Christian love, and the church responded affirmatively. Then, as is the tradition at Trinity, the church serenaded Audrey. Tammy and familyAs she walked around the sanctuary, the congregation sang, “Audrey, Audrey, God claims you, God helps you, protects you and loves you too… And we this day to all agree a child of God you’ll always be.” After the blessing, Audrey received a baptism certificate and a candle, both to remind her of her baptism.

My prayer for Audrey during the baptism was that she would remember it, that she would recall the smiling faces singing words of assurance to her, that she would tell others of how cold the water was as it poured over her hair and face, and that she would remember the whimsy of the moment at which she waved at the choir and the entire adult choir waved back. I prayed that Audrey would have this moment of joyful acceptance in her memory so that it could sustain her when her faith felt distant or weak, and I prayed words of thanksgiving for the gift of church family that welcomed my child so wholeheartedly.

Audrey was baptized, and it was not at all like what I had pictured when she was an infant in arms. The experience was so much broader and richer than I could have imagined. And I am thankful.

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

A Prayer of Celebration and Thanksgiving by Betty Lou Land

To celebrate Sarah Jackson Shelton’s ten years as pastor of Baptist Church of the Covenant, Birmingham, Alabama, Bridget Rose collected prayers offered by church members and friends during the church’s worship services from September 8, 2002 to September 9, 2012. Those prayers became Prayers of the People. The book was recently released by Insight Press. Below is the prayer voiced by Betty Lou Land on Sarah’s tenth anniversary Sunday.

 

“Creator of all, one of your extraordinary gifts to us as your followers is the reason we celebrate today at Baptist Church of the Covenant. Sarah Jackson Shelton brings your love to us through her abiding strong faith and love of you, O God. She has a deep understanding of you, shown to us through her selfless caring for others, kindness to those in need, limitless giving, ongoing patience, endless compassion and wisdom in the ways of God.

Pastor Sarah’s leadership, high standards, bravery, and loyalty shake us to awaken to possibilities for your church. This gladdens our hearts and touches out souls, leading us toward the light. Thank you for her encouragement and empowerment to each of us.

Through her ministry our lives are made richer. with grateful hearts, we ask your blessings on her, her family, and upon us, your people, O Creator! Now we unite our hearts and our voices to pray together the prayer that Jesus taught us, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.”

 

You can order your copy of Prayers of the People from Insight Press.

The Bible and Women by Preston Clegg

I pastor a church where women are free to be and do all God calls them to be and to do.  In the last few years, we have ordained women to be deacons, elders, and ministers of the gospel.  Today, we no longer talk much about women in ministry at Spring Creek for the same reason we don’t talk much about men in ministry.  It’s just part of our DNA, part and parcel to who we are.  For us, Christian leadership has nothing to do with gender.

Some people, especially some of our other Baptist brothers and sisters, believe this practice to be unbiblical, referencing texts like 1 Tim. 2.9-15, 1 Tim. 3.2, and 1 Cor. 14.34-36 as clear biblical prohibitions against women in leadership roles in the church. Given my last two posts, however, I would like to reconsider the “biblical” view of women in the church.

First of all, because Jesus is the interpretive lens through which we interpret Scripture, we must begin with him.   When compared with all the other common views of women in his day, the way Jesus treated women was somewhat revolutionary.  Jesus elevated women to a status they had never enjoyed before.  While most people saw women as something like possessions, Jesus treated them as something like people!  He included them amongst his disciples and commended them as examples.  He equalized their marriage status with the men of his day in his teachings on marriage and divorce.  Women were the first witnesses to the resurrection in all four gospels.  Furthermore, Jesus’ announcement of a Kingdom where people live in mutual love and support becomes strained when one group of those people is a priori relegated to secondary status simply because of their gender.  Unfortunately, the place where women are most restricted in our day is the place where people gather in the name of the one who most liberated them in his day.  From the beginning, I must ask myself:  do our views of women pass the Jesus test?  Do our views of women pass the love test?

Secondly, most of the issues concerning women in the church stem from the Apostle Paul (as evidenced by the three texts mentioned above).  Today, many people view Paul as oppressive at best and a misogynist at worst.  However, several issues must be addressed here:

(1) Is Paul being descriptive or prescriptive?  If prescriptive, is he prescribing decrees for all places at all times or for that particular time and place?  Would our views of women in the church be congruent with our views of the length of women’s hair, which he also addresses?

 

(2) These aren’t the only texts in which Paul addresses women.  Paul speaks of Phoebe who is a deacon in Rome (16.1-2), and he addresses how women should dress when they prophecy, which means PREACH (1 Cor. 11.5)!  In several letters, Paul says something like, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3.28).  In other words, the boundaries and categories which typically define us have been destroyed in the light of the one who gives us a new identity.  Most of us would be appalled at the idea of racism in the church or classism- and yet many of us institutionalize sexism.  Why would the church want to tear down these other walls and perpetuate the other at all costs?  Would the “equal in status but different in roles” argument work for race and class as well?  I sure hope not!

 

(3) Furthermore, we must address how literal we intend to take the “prohibitions” mentioned above.  For example, 1 Tim. 3.2 states, “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife . . . . ”  It’s the “husband of one wife clause” that forbids women from serving in that capacity, some argue.  However, many of those same people would have no problem with a single minister.  At the most literal level, you can’t be the husband of one wife if you are single.  Yet, many of the churches who argue so vehemently about gender never mention marital status.  Why is this?

 

Finally, the overall biblical witness testifies to the irreplaceable importance of women in the history of God’s people.  Women saturate the Bible in ways unique to most other ancient literature.  Joel dreams of a day when “sons and daughters will prophecy (again preach),” and this text is remembered by Peter at Pentecost as a sign of the presence of the Spirit.  Miriam aided Moses, and subversive midwives overcame Pharaoh.  Deborah was one of the greatest judges, and Hannah gave birth to more than just Samuel.  Mary is the paradigmatic disciple in Luke, and the Philippian church would have been drastically different if not for Lydia.  Stories like this frequent the Bible from cover to cover. They also frequent every church I’ve ever been a part of.

 

Again, when we ponder all this, are we sure we ascribe to THE biblical view of women in the church?

Preston Clegg is pastor of Spring Creek Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This post first appeared on his blog, The Bright Field.