What’s an Evangelical Feminist?

Anne Eggebrotten

Anne Eggebrotten, who teaches on women and religion at California State University, Northridge, recently published her article The Persistence of Patriarchy in Sojourners (July 2010). Anne is one of the founding member of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus.

The EEWC grew out of the 1973 Chicago gathering of young evangelicals who eventually launched the Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern. Some of these folks went on to lead Evangelicals for Social Action. Among the participants were women concerned about the inferior status of women in Church and society and who called on the group to consider issues related to sexism from a Christian perspective.

At ESA’s second consultation in 1974 the women’s caucus was one of six task forces formed by participants to study such concerns as racism, sexism, peace, and simpler lifestyles. Thus our group was born as the Evangelical Women’s Caucus. EWC presented proposals to Evangelicals for Social Action on a variety of topics including endorsement of the Equal Rights Amendment, support for inclusive language in Bible translation and Christian publications, affirmation of the ordination of women, and criticism of discriminatory hiring policies in Christian institutions.

The first national EWC conference, held in 1975 in Washington, D.C., addressed “Women in Transition: A Biblical Approach to Feminism.” The conference attracted more than 360 women from 36 of the 50 United States and from Canada. Many of the speakers at this conference were also writing on this topic for The Post American, the predecessor of Sojourners magazine.

Since many people may not be familiar with the EECW’s work, I thought I’d post their mission statement below:

Mission: We support, educate, and celebrate Christian feminists from many traditions.

Purpose:
* to encourage and advocate the use of women’s gifts in all forms of Christian vocation.
* to provide educational opportunities for Christian feminists to grow in their belief and understanding.
* to promote networking and mutual encouragement within the Christian community.

Statement of Faith:
We believe God is the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of all. We believe God created all people in the divine image for relationship with God and one another. We further believe our relationship with God was shattered by sin with a consequent disruption of all other relationships. We believe God in love has made possible a new beginning through the incarnation in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who was and is truly divine and truly human. We believe the Bible is the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is a central guide and authority for Christian faith and life. We believe the church is a community of people who have been divinely called to do God’s will, exercising their gifts responsibly in church, home, and society, and looking forward to God’s new creation.

We Are Christian Feminists:
* EEWC affirms that the Bible supports the equality of the sexes.
* We believe that our society and churches have irresponsibly encouraged men to domination and women to passivity.
*We proclaim God’s redemptive word on mutuality and active discipleship.
* We value inclusive images and language for God.
*We advocate ordination of women and full expression of women’s leadership and spiritual gifts.

We Are Inclusive:
* EEWC is evangelical because our formation was rooted in the belief that the Gospel is good news for all persons.
* EEWC is ecumenical because we recognize that faith is expressed through a rich diversity of traditions and forms of spirituality.
* We offer a community of safety for all who have experienced abuse, marginalization, or exclusion by Christian churches.
*We have discovered that the expansiveness of God calls us to be an inclusive community.

We Welcome You: EEWC welcomes members of any gender, race, ethnicity, color, creed, marital status, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, age, political party, parental status, economic class, or disability. Our biennial conferences sustain our spiritual connectedness and foster our learning about critical Christian feminist issues.

EEWC has a quarterly newsletter, Christian Feminism Today magazine that provides Christian feminist news, articles, book reviews, and inspiration. For more information, see www.eewc.com.

The Thomas Mass

I just found this photo from the closing liturgy at the 2006 Politics and Spirituality Conference that the Center for Action and Contemplation and Sojourners co-hosted in Pasadena, CA. It was called a “Thomas Mass. ” The con-celebrants were Anita Amstutz, Richard Rohr, and myself. Jim Wallis preached.

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The “Thomas Mass” was first created in Helsinki, Finland in 1988 by a collection of ministers of various denominations, artists, musicians, and civic leaders (hence it is not really a “Mass,” in the official Catholic sense). They wanted to create a prayerful service that would again fill their cathedral, but with seekers, searchers, and believers alike. They recognized that much of Europe had become a continent of skeptics, and so they named the service after St. Thomas “the Doubter.”

After an initial attempt to create an ecumenical and new liturgy, they realized that it basically had the structure of the historic Catholic Mass. It immediately began to spread across Europe.  The Thomas Mass avoids the usual denominational turf, arguments, and leadership, while still offering a deeply sacramental structure where disparate groups can gather in a faith-filled way.

It retrieves the historic meaning of the very word “liturgy” as a collective work of the people. One of the strengths of the Thomas Mass is that it emphasizes full participation instead of mere listening or “attendance.” It was a wonderful experience.