Dear sisters who have learned and grown under the ministry of Beth Moore,
The tremendous impact of Beth Moore’s preaching, teaching and writing on women’s lives is undeniable.
She has called women to a deeper understanding of Scripture and has invited women across the world to integrate faith and reason in their study of the Bible in hopes of leading us to deeper relationships with Christ.
But in the past several years, she drew negative attention and chastisement among Southern Baptist leadership, resulting in her recent decision to part ways with her home denomination.
The issues leading to the separation began with her earnest pleas that the sexual assault of women be taken more seriously and continued when she allowed her ministry to happen in the Sunday morning pulpit and be called “preaching.”
For the past several years, she tried to stay within the system that had given her a voice in order that she might fight for change. But it appears that she has since come to an awareness that her efforts fell on deaf ears and hardened hearts.
My sisters, I want you to know that her story is also the story of many others.
Our stories occurred far more quietly, but they have been happening for decades.
Like her, we wanted to use our full giftedness for Christ in the denomination that raised us and baptized us. We studied the scriptures, integrated faith and reason, and we felt called by God to preach and teach.
But if we refused to play by the rules of the establishment, then we were called names and told that wanna-be women pastors should wear super glue for lipstick.
Like her, we want all women to be seen as created in the image of God and worthy of agency, voice and protection. We want women to be treated as more than just sexual objects, but instead to be considered partners in the work of Christ.
But they told us that we had to print retractions for our blasphemous words and ideas.
So, we left.
Some of us left quickly; others stayed longer. But the result was the same.
We came to realize that women would never be valued in Southern Baptist Convention in the same ways as men, so we left to find places where our gifts, callings and personhood would be respected and treasured.
So now I want to offer an invitation to you.
As Beth Moore has joined the droves of women (and men) who have walked away from a system whose foundation is built upon the oppression of many, including women, I hope that you might consider your future in places like the SBC as well.
Women are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and the apostle Paul tells us that in Christ there is no male or female (Gal. 3:28).
As women, we are worthy of being treated as equals and partners in the purposes of God.
I can only imagine the outbreak of God’s work on earth if a host of women walked away from authoritarian systems and found the freedom to join fully in God’s work and even empower other women to do the same.
Can you see it? Women everywhere finding freedom as divine image-bearers? Women joining side-by-side with men, instead of two steps behind them, in sharing the love of Christ with a world in need?
It’s a vision of the church that I think might even appear on earth as it is in heaven.
I hope you can see that vision too, and I hope that you will make it a reality.
Your sister in Christ … who is also a wanna-be woman pastor who refused to print a retraction.
Executive Director of Baptist Women in Ministry.