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Crack the book that 
Re-rewrites history 
And grow new eyes to 
Legal injustice

As a girl I watched 
Color decide 
The lines between human and not 
Hit me 
Like the whip he used on your back 
Your blood flowed and your screams 
Choked my sense 
Of humanity 
Like a millstone 
Around my neck 
Growing heavier 
With each black face 
Pushed to the dirt

They said you weren’t
Allowed to know 
What letters meant 
On a page

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“You idiot!”

“Who asked for your opinion?”

“Get in here and clean this up.”

“We never had that conversation.”

When does communication cross the line into verbal abuse? When the words or attitude disrespect or devalue the other person.

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It matters that Mary and Jesus are often inaccurately imaged with light skin in the West. It matters that pastors preach on Jacob, David, and Peter but not Rahab, Tamar, and Priscilla. And it matters that, Sunday after Sunday, women don’t see preachers who look like us in the pulpit.

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One of the key issues faced by women in the church is the lack of provision for ongoing leadership development. Even in churches that espouse gender equality, women woefully lack leadership opportunities, especially on the platform.

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They came from all over
     Bahrain, Turkey, Rome:
A little band of women
     with hope all their own
To learn and to study,
     To become stronger in their faith
To encourage one another
     In the footsteps of the saints.

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Reproduced from The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, vol. 27, no. 6, June 1896.

 

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Women’s participation in development and leadership is not an imposition of our times. It is as old as creation itself. In the biblical accounts of creation (Gen 1:26), the command of God to steward the earth is given to both women and men, meaning that they are both to take leadership in overseeing the wellbeing of the population in their care. Throughout the Bible, God gives gifts so that both women and men may lead; therefore, we should recognize those gifts as our “sons and daughters prophesy” to lead us. This is clearly seen in the book of Acts, where both women and men answer the call to ministry as community workers (9:36, 39), as teachers of the word (18:26), and as prophets (21:9). Both women and men were exhorted to use their spiritual gifts fully without restrictions on the basis of gender (Rom 12:14–20; 1 Cor 12:7, 11; Eph 4:6–8; 1 Pet 4:10–11). This shows that men and women participated equally in the service (1 Cor 11:5) as confirmed by the presence of active women such as Lydia (who appears to have bankrolled a church as well as Paul’s ministry). The Proverbs 31 woman is commended for all her businesses (real estate, textiles, etc.). By the same token today, women’s gifts should be utilized in the marketplace as well as men’s, and equal participation in the development process should be encouraged as a biblical ideal.

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Women participated significantly in the modern mission movement, serving as leaders in what was perhaps the greatest missionary impulse the world has ever known.

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Today we look at three women from the Renaissance period: a Spanish nun, an early resident of the American colonies, and the Mother of Quakerism.

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This post is one in a series on notable women from church history we're doing to celebrate Women's History Month. This week we're highlighting two women from the high and late middle ages: Clare of Assisi and Isotta Nogarola.

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