The Southern Baptist Convention marked its 100th year of allowing women to attend as messengers – and messengers they were, with Beth Moore and Lisa Harper encouraging Christian women to take their rightful position in the church.
According to the Baptist Press, Harper told a room full of pastors' wives they must not be silent.
She encouraged them to “stand, even when expected to sit, with strong conviction and soft hearts."
In the wake of some of the most shocking church shakeups in years, Harper reminded attendees, "Misogyny or not, we all have to go back to what it means to be beloved."
Meanwhile, Moore called for more women in leadership roles.
You may not support a woman teaching from the platform but you cannot use Scripture to claim women did not & cannot in any way lead. If women in crisis never see women in visible roles in church & never hear from them, what on earth would ever make them think they would be heard?
— Beth Moore (@BethMooreLPM) June 13, 2018
Moore, who wrote an open letter last month decrying the lack of respect for women in evangelical circles, said that she was often overlooked when among her evangelical male counterparts.
As for her interactions with colleagues, she says, “I was the elephant in the room with a skirt on.”
The turn of the year brought about the resignation of SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page, who admitted to an inappropriate relationship.
As the #MeToo movement gained steam, it bulldozed its way through the church pews, bringing light to areas of sexual misconduct which accusers say has plagued the organization for years.
More recently, Paige Patterson was removed from his position at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as controversy brewed over his comments on women, as well as his seeming lack of attention to allegations of rape and abuse.
A statement from Kevin Uekert, chairman of the Board of Trustees, noted the seminary found Patterson had misled them about his involvement in a 2003 rape allegation. The committee then found that Paige tried to thwart efforts by a female student to report that she was sexually assaulted in 2015.
In an email to campus law enforcement, “Dr. Patterson discussed meeting with the student alone so that he could “break her down” and that he preferred no officials be present. The attitude expressed by Dr. Patterson in that email is antithetical to the core values of our faith and to SWBTS,” wrote Uekert.
As for the role of women in evangelical circles, Moore says that there was a time she was afraid of the backlash she’d receive for coming forward with these concerns.
She knew that speaking out against the male leadership would only end with her being “fried like a chicken”-- but now she says, “After recent events following on the heels of a harrowing 18 months, I’ve decided fried chicken doesn’t sound so bad.”
Other Southern Baptist leaders have spoken out on the matter as well.
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, blogged that he felt this was the hand of God and that in serving for more than two decades he was blind to this problem.
Mohler humbly writes, “I was wrong. The judgment of God has come.”
The seminary, which says it is “driven by truth,” has seen some dark days, but leaders are hopeful they will grow and change from this storm.
Mohler adds, “The #MeToo moment has come to American evangelicals. This moment has come to some of my friends and brothers in Christ. This moment has come to me, and I am called to deal with it as a Christian, as a minister of the Gospel, as a seminary and college president, and as a public leader. I pray that I will lead rightly.”