Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Women

I spent last weekend at a women's retreat planned by the women of the Southern Hills church in Abilene. I was mightly impressed with the women I saw. I don't think the books written about the Stone-Campbell movement and the restoration church give enough credit to the women who often were the backbones of the church. Lindy Adams said that her journey in the CofC was like that of Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astair--she mastered all the steps "backwards and in high heels."

Women were often in those early days the real "leaders" of the church while the men labored to provide food for the family--they organized services, found places to meet (often in their own homes), evangelized the community using quilting, cooking, or whatever was at their disposal, and arrived early to light the fire in the pot belly stove! Some were even known to "lead singing" from the front row when a man who could sing was nowhere to be found.

As the church grew and became more uptown, the men "took over" and the women settled back into their "appropriate" roles. Even still, most of the bible school was taught by godly women, except of course for the adult classes. Bible class material was written mostly by women, and indeed even the songs that were sung were written mostly by women. Yet substantive leadership roles were denied.

Katie Hayes says that while those doors to shared leadership for women are opening wider these days, they are still very heavy and reluctant to open at all. The women I saw in Abilene are ready and willing for the tasks that lie before them. They are equipped with the fruit of the Holy Spirit in abundance, full of knowledge, and replete with love and joy. May their tribe increase, and may the doors fall off their hinges welcoming them.

P. S. A book about women in our fellowship I enjoy is Trusting Women, the Way of Women in the Churches of Christ edited by Billie Silvey and published by New Leaf Books.

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