Women in the Church

Home/Women in the Church

The Abuse of Women and Our Response (Part Two)

Unknown-1The case of Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice’s assault on his fiancé in February of this year underscores a major problem in the NFL and our culture in general – women are still being abused and many institutions (mostly those led by men) cover it up or deny its importance. They do this by being “tone deaf” to the deeper issues involved in this problem. I suggested yesterday that the NFL represents a larger problem in our society, a problem that extends into the leadership of our churches. Let me explain.

The Baltimore Ravens consider Ray Rice an important leader on their team and to their organization. Their response to this assault has been to address the whole nightmare as a public relations problem. They had Janay Rice sit beside her husband in front of a Ravens backdrop for a press conference after his arrest. This strikes me as major “damage control.” They were attempting, suggested Phil Taylor in the August 4 issue of Sports Illustrated, “to repair their star running back’s image.” This press conference even included

The Abuse of Women and Our Response (Part One)

Women are abused every day, perhaps no less so than a few decades ago when the problem was not as open for the public to see as it has been in the early 21st century. This abuse might be even less understood by the general public than it was  a decade ago, at least based on some data I’ve studied. Reports of such abuse are as common now as ever but the response to them has not improved nearly as much as we should desire. Many abusive situations are settled in ways that leave me uneasy, to put it mildly. Let me cite one story to underscore how my sense of outrage about this issue was spiked just a few weeks ago.

UnknownExhibit A – The recent ruling of the National Football League (NFL) in the case of Ray Rice. Rice, a star running back for the Baltimore Ravens, received a suspension of only two games for a domestic violence incident in February. This particular incident left Rice’s fiancé Janay Palmer (who is now his wife) lying unconscious

A New Kind of Leader in the Irish Methodist Church

S34736-xlimage-R2265-a-practical-theologianDr. Heather Morris, the first female leader of a major church body in Ireland, was recently installed as the President of the Methodist Church, at a gathering at Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim.

Martin O’Brien, editor of The Irish Catholic, writes that he first heard Dr Morris preach to a huge congregation at Clonard Novena where “she held in rapt attention” a large congregation. The  48-year-old wife of Neil Morris, Heather is a chartered accountant and the mother of two grown children. O’Brien says Heather Morris is “about as far as you can imagine from being a shrinking violet when it comes to presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the charism of her Church.”

He adds:

Radiating a joyous personality she could be said to embody the “heart strangely warmed [by God]” that Wesley famously wrote about in his journal. Morris says Wesley’s vision has not changed in our day but “we are in the process of rediscovery.” And she adds, “It is about being reminded of something we have forgotten. It’s about a warmed heart, and passion for

My Sisters the Saints (6) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith

images-1Colleen Carroll Campbell’s journey to femininity did not lead her to embrace a kind of Catholic “fundamentalism” with regard to the social, professional and economic gains that she had previously experienced because of feminism. John and Carroll Campbell clearly share a marriage of mutuality. They have just as clearly learned how to sacrifice and give up their personal agendas, one for the other. For those on the far right, who think the only way to respond to modern feminism is to throw “the baby out with the dirty bathwater” her conclusion will not satisfy you. At the same time if you want a radical feminist perspective that leads to a profound fear and loathing of men and motherhood then you must look elsewhere.

As Colleen read Edith Stein, and Pope John Paul II, she concluded that men are called to loving communion with others just as much as women. But Edith Stein believed that a man was called, more than a woman, to “action, work, and objective accomplishments. A man is less concerned with problems of being, whether

My Sisters the Saints (4) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith

imagesIn the spring of 2001, five years after Colleen Carroll Campbell had moved from Memphis to St. Louis to write for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, she fell in love with John Campbell, a young physician in training who would become her husband. Their love story is endearing and genuinely sweet. During this same time, in 2001, she took a year-long leave from the newspaper to write her book titled: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2002). She describes this project as a “labor of love . . . a young writer’s dream” (55). She received a grant to travel around the country interviewing hundreds of her peers, mostly Catholics and evangelicals. Her desire was to track and reveal a growing trend among younger adults who were embracing more orthodox expressions of the Christian faith. Her interest grew out of her own experience of faith and astute professional observations. The book is not based on a poll, or the gathering of scientific data. It is anecdotal and profoundly fun to

A Pastor Who Learned How to Serve the Homeless On the Streets

authorDRMFor twenty-seven years Deb Richardson-Moore was a journalist in South Carolina. Then, after being a writer, mother and wife, she entered a Presbyterian seminary (Erskine) to become a Baptist minister. After graduating with her M.Div. she accepted a post at a run-down inner-city church, oddly named Triune. It was a place where the homeless routinely gathered for food and clothing in Charleston, South Carolina. She was, to put it quite mildly, shocked. She thought she knew what she was getting into but within a few weeks reality hit her like the proverbial freight train. Seminary, and life as a mother and professional writer, had not prepared her for this unique calling.

Deb tells her brutally honest and compelling story in a new book with a lovely title: The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets (Monarch, 2012). Her story is told as a personal memoir, a form that has become increasingly popular with modern writers. This allows Deb to relate the story from her perspective, as she recalls it and as she lived it.

Understanding our Exilic Missional Context: Evangelicalism and Liberalism in Twentieth Century America

Most historians and religion scholars now agree that by the twentieth century liberal Protestantism had led to a mainstream Protestantism that was vague, theistic and excessively nationalistic. In a profound sense, concludes British Christian Studies scholar Linda Woodhead, “liberal Protestantism’s triumph can be said to lie to some extent in its disappearance; it dissolved into the blood stream of American culture” (An Introduction to Christianity, 261). I think this is one of the most important single sentences in all that I’ve written in my recent posts about the growing unimportance of Christian faith to most Americans, especially the youngest Americans.

In contrast to this shrinking of Protestant faith the evangelicalism of Moody and Sunday gave rise to a more combative counter-cultural movement that was built on opposition, opposition to liberalism. These more conservative and populist movements produced battles over science in the first half of the century and then battles over political control of the nation in the second half, but I get a little ahead of myself.

booksLinda Woodhead begins her chapter on twentieth-century Christianity, in her most

How Exile Came About: Theological and Cultural Developments in the Nineteenth Century (2)

Near the end of the nineteenth century the evangelical experience of Christianity in America changed things in the church even more radically than previous movements had done within historic Protestantism. While the paradigm of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress remained deeply embedded in the evangelical conversion system a new version would soon emerge in the Protestant psyche by the first decade or so of the twentieth century. imagesBilly Sunday (1863–1935) brought the message of Christ to multitudes in both America and Britain. The demands of conversion were “much relaxed” (An Introduction to Christianity, 252) through his preaching. On the final day of Billy Sunday’s New York revival campaign he asked: “Do you want God’s blessing on you, your home, your church, your nation, New York? If you do, raise your hands . . . How many of you men and women will jump to your feet and come down and say, ‘Bill, here’s my hand for God, for home, for my native land, to live and conquer for Christ.” The structure of Bunyan’s conversion model was clearly retained

When Jesus Met Mary: A Conference on Friendship with a Unique (and Controversial) Emphasis on Friendship with the Opposite Sex

6a00d8341c530d53ef01310ffcfbd3970c-800wiCan men and women be close friends without the sex part getting in the way?

Can men and women who are married enjoy opposite sex friendships?

What would our marriages, our friendships, our churches, and our communities look like if men and women were not afraid of connecting with each other in deep ways?

What would male-female relationships look like in marriages and friendship if every man and woman could know the spiritual richness and beauty of oneness between genders?

These are the kinds of questions that grew out of my reading of a fine book I reviewed extensively on this site, December 21-24, 2010. I wrote long blogs about Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions, a ground-breaking and courageous book written by my good friend Dan Brennan. I believed then that it had something extremely important to say about real friendship

When Jesus Met Mary: A Sacred Friendship Gathering

This unique event, hosted by my dear friend, author and speaker Dan Brennan, will feature several interesting and engaging speakers, including yours truly. It will present a great opportunity for a kind of dialogue not generally welcomed in the church at large and includes a special opportunity to meet new friends in genuine conversation and fellowship. Please consider attending. Here is more information:


When Jesus Met Mary: A Sacred Friendship Gathering

Chicago, Illinois

April 27th-28th, 2012

A Conference Exploring Friendship Between Men and Women

Contact: Dan at [sacredfriendshipgathering@gmail.com]

When men and women come together, are the only options romance or danger?  Is sex the subtext of every male-female friendship?  Is true male-female friendship ever possible without uncomfortable tension, cynicism or second-guessing?

When Jesus met Mary in the garden, it was in friendship.  In the Gospel


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: