Hurdles continue to be placed in front of women who are called to preach.
Some Christians argue she doesn’t have what it takes. Others say there are other things that she should be doing – mostly in the kitchen and the nursery.
A ticking biological clock but no time imaginable when God would use women in leadership, she is given every reason not to stand behind a pulpit.
Women share the gospel in spite of every traditional hurdle and personal hang up, whether it be an aesthetic or auditory preference.
Because God’s messengers have deep voices and angels wear either a blue or black suit, right? Because if a man didn’t say it, then neither did God? Because if I don’t hear the gospel from him, then we can’t believe it?
Jesus talked to the women after the resurrection, and we’ve been trying to bury her voice and weigh her down with our other options ever since.
Many Christians still don’t believe that God speaks to women — unless God has a message for children.
Perhaps they believe that God is still giving her the silent treatment after that incident in the Garden of Eden. Yes, Jesus came to save the world — but only half of it. Let’s just leave the women out of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.
Leave them out of the Great Commission — because they weren’t a part of Jesus’ ministry team. They just financed his ministry and took more than one for the team.
Leave women out of the experience at Pentecost and the early church. Leave them out of Paul’s letters, out of the Reformation and the Great Awakening. Leave her name off of every list for pastoral positions. Because we are damned to hell if she ever leads someone to Jesus.
Nevertheless, she preaches.
Founded in 2017 by Kyndall Rae Rothaus and Natalie Webb, Nevertheless She Preached (NSP) “exists to empower all people to dismantle patriarchal structures by elevating voices of faith leaders on the margins, especially womxn and sexual minorities of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.”
Attendees from across the country and across denominational lines registered for the 2021 annual gathering that took place on Sept. 19-21 to do just that.
This year’s theme was “Embrace Healing, Embody Hope,” and for three days the conference took place across several different platforms.
NSP formed a community ready and willing to have meaningful dialogue, to worship Mother God and pray to Christ Sophia, to prophesy deliverance from the patriarchy and, of course, to preach.
The virtual event started with a Healing and Hope Rally on Facebook Live, hosted by Aurelia Dávila Pratt and Brittany Graves, ordained Baptist ministers and co-hosts of the Nuance Tea podcast.
It included a spoken word performance by April Neal and a panel discussion with featured speakers: Kaitlin Curtice, Valerie Bridgeman, Kathy Khang and Irie Session. Their discussion of hope set the tone for conference participants.
Making a distinction between toxic positivity and authentic hope, Rothaus said, “Hope is not an unshakeable optimism. Hope is a direction I keep choosing. Hope is not a thing we feel. Hope is a thing we do.”
Curtice chimed in, “Hope calls something out of us. Hope moves and changes us.”
And just like that, Bridgeman reminded us, we were having “woman church.”
In the chat, it was clear that these women didn’t just have an audience but an “Amen corner.”
With each gathering – including a session led by Kathy Khang on authentic voice, a preaching lab with Carla Jones Brown, Alicia Reyes-Barriéntez speaking about race, religious indoctrination and childhood trauma, as well as Jennifer Owens-Jofré discussing Hispanic Catholic women’s leadership – NSP continued to embrace healing and embody hope.
It was clear that the conference planners wanted to get into every nook and cranny with sermons delivered by Valerie Bridgeman, Courtney Pace and Irie Sessions, who all embodied the healing and hope of women who nevertheless preach.
By naming and holding space for people, places and things that have hurt us, we open ourselves up to hope for a healthier church.
“On the Margin and Beyond the Gender Binary” with Lindsay Jodrey, and a panel discussion on reproductive justice moderated by Natalie Webb, envisioned a more authentic world for everyone.
Rothaus’ presentation, “Gendering God,” enlarged our view of the Divine by emphasizing that we should not be confined to masculine images and pronouns.
We covered a lot of ground, singing all the way with Crystal Paull.
Thoughtfully planned and well-executed, NSP also included a virtual yoga studio and lounge, where we could stretch out and hangout with other participants in between and after events.
This conference ensured that we had no excuse when it came to preaching.