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Logos Live: Leanne Dzubinski & Anneke Stasson on Women in the Mission of the Church

Logos Live: Leanne Dzubinski & Anneke Stasson on women in the mission of the church

What you’ll see in this Logos Live episode

Jennifer Grisham interviews Drs. Anneke Stasson and Leanne Dzubinski about their book Women in the Mission of the Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles throughout Christian History. Hear their heart behind the book, inspiring stories of women sharing the gospel throughout history, and more.

Jump to transcript.

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Women in the Mission of the Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles throughout Christian History

Women in the Mission of the Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles throughout Christian History

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Walter and Ingrid Trobisch and the Globalization of Modern, Christian Sexual Ethics

Walter and Ingrid Trobisch and the Globalization of Modern, Christian Sexual Ethics

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Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters: A Historical and Biographical Guide

Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters: A Historical and Biographical Guide

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Christian Women in the Patristic World

Christian Women in the Patristic World

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The Second Coming of Christ: Is He Coming? How Is He Coming? When Is He Coming? For Whom Is He Coming?

The Second Coming of Christ: Is He Coming? How Is He Coming? When Is He Coming? For Whom Is He Coming?

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The Second Coming of Christ

The Second Coming of Christ

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This Is That: Personal Experiences, Sermons, and Writings of Aimee Semple McPherson, Evangelist

This Is That: Personal Experiences, Sermons, and Writings of Aimee Semple McPherson, Evangelist

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Mrs Luther and her sisters: Women in the Reformation

Mrs Luther and her sisters: Women in the Reformation

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Dictionary of Women in Church History

Dictionary of Women in Church History

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Interview with Drs. Dzubinski & Stasson on women in the mission of the church

Jennifer Grisham:
Welcome to Logos live. My name is Jennifer Grisham. I’m on the content marketing team here at Logos, and I’m really excited to be talking with you today. So today’s the first day of Women’s History Month. And we’re talking with the authors of Women in the Mission of The Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles Throughout Christian History. So I’m going to introduce them to you here in just a moment, but I would like to remind you, this is the first day of Women’s History Month, and we’re really excited to be talking with Dr. Dzubinski and Dr. Stasson. So Dr. Leanne Dzubinski is the interim dean at the Cook School of Intercultural Studies and associate professor of intercultural education at Biola and has spent more than 25 years in cross-cultural ministry, including teaching and ministry in Barcelona, in Gras, Austria, and across Europe. And in addition served in Asian American church ministry in the U.S. She’s really passionate about developing good leadership in Christian organizations and supporting women to faithfully use their gifts in whatever capacity God calls them.

Jennifer Grisham:
We’re really thankful that you’re here. Dr. Dzubinski, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
Thanks.

Jennifer Grisham:
And Dr. Anneke Stasson is here as well. She’s the associate professor of humanities and history at Indiana Wesleyan University. She received her MA in church history from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia and PhD from Boston University, where she studied history of Christianity, global Christianity. And the history of missions. Her current research addresses the relationship between Christianity and cultural conceptions of gender, marriage, and family life. Together, these two have written Women in the Mission of the Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles Throughout History. And we’ll drop a link in the chat here in just a moment. Thank you both for joining us today.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
Thank you for having us.

Jennifer Grisham:
Awesome. So I would love to start by just hearing the story of this book. I got a chance to read it as preparation for this interview, and I was really impressed with the number of stories that you crammed into this book. It’s really dense with the stories of dozens of women through church history. And so before we kind of pull that out, I would love to hear more about the story of the book itself. So Anneke, as a historian, and Leanne as a missiologist, this seems kind of like a little bit of overlapping worlds that you brought to this book. So I would love to hear how the book came about and how each of you brought your unique studies and expertise and experience as well to this book.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
Thanks, Jen. So the genesis of the book was a presentation that I had developed first as a seminary class on leadership, and then as a presentation for women leaders in mission organizations. And it seemed like most people knew a few stories of women here and there in church history, but I wanted them to really see how women have been an integral part of the church from the very beginning. And so originally I covered three big swaths of history, the early church with its movements of vocations of virgins, widows, and deacons, and then the medieval church’s monastic movements for women, and then finally the modern church’s missionary vocation for women. And so women found these presentations really encouraging, and pretty soon they started asking for a book, right? But as you said, I’m not a historian; I’m trained in education and in theology. And so I knew Anneke from Biola—she was there for a couple years—and I asked her because she is a historian, if she would be interested in writing this book together. And so that’s how we came to write the book.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
Yeah. And I’ll just add my couple of little bits there. I just had done a lot of study to find all of these stories of women in church history and I was really frustrated that those stories hadn’t made their way out into the pews of the churches. I didn’t grow up hearing these stories, and the people I knew didn’t know these stories, and yet I knew that the scholars had done the work to recover these stories. And so our project was really just not doing original research, but just taking all this work that other scholars have done and just putting it into one place so that people could read this book and become aware of that wider history.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
Yeah, one of the things that was really important to us was to cover the whole 2,000 years of church history, which meant we made strategic choices to go wide rather than to go deep, which is part of why we have just short stories of so many different women in the book. But we wanted to show this ongoing pattern of how women have been involved from the very beginning.

Jennifer Grisham:
Yeah. That comes through really strongly that this isn’t a one-off, that it’s been a pattern that women have been involved in the mission of the church from day one. And so I think that is really encouraging, especially to women who have any sort of ministerial role or women who are interested in pursuing, “What does it look like for me to follow God’s call in my life?” So the book itself I recommend for anyone tuning in online, pick up a copy of it. It’s great to read through a chapter at a time or a chunk at a time, but you could also just very easily find individual stories of women throughout. And it covers so many different ways. There’s not a cookie cutter way that women have been involved in the mission of the church over centuries, but it really covers so many different ways the church has used women in their different capacities and roles and gifting.

Jennifer Grisham:
Some of the stories that I’ve read were new to me. Some of them I’ve learned, a lot of them I’ve learned in the past few years. It’s really been more recently that I’ve started to hear more of the stories of women in church history. But with that said, I’m curious which women do you wish were more well known in our Western Christian setting? There’s so many stories to pull from, but I’m wondering if there are any particular favorites that you have or ones that you think, “Man, if everybody knew this story, that would be such a value-add to the church.”

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
Yeah. One of my favorites is Ida B. Wells. I didn’t grow up knowing about who she was, but she was one of the foremost anti-lynching activists in the end of the 1900s here in America. So she was an African American woman. She had been born into slavery and then grew up and became this activist. And she’s really well known in American history circles, but she’s not known in the church, which I think is a huge sadness because a big motivation for her in protesting against lynching and spreading this awful story of what was happening in America, part of her motivation came from her faith. She had a really strong faith in God. And when she would encounter hard times, she would always go to God in prayer.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
Just a couple of stories. She taught Sunday school for her church. I think she went to a Presbyterian church, but she taught the men who were age 18 to 30. And she tells the story of there being a lynching. It was an African American man. And that was the population that was most often lynched in this country at the turn of the century. And all these young men in her Sunday school class were just like, “Eh, there’s nothing we can do. It’s hopeless. America’s never going to change.” And she just took them to task. And she was like, “That is not our faith. We’re called to be active. And even if you think that people aren’t going to change, you need to stand up for what you know is right.” And she ended up motivating these guys. Together they all founded this ministry to reach out and to help African Americans in Chicago to just address some of the concerns.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
There was another case when these men had been wrongfully imprisoned for a crime that they didn’t commit. She went and visited them in prison. And she pulled out that story of Paul and Silas praying in prison and singing songs. And she just ministered to them. And again, you just see her faith coming out in the way that she’s interacting with these people, and they ended up being released.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
The other thing I love about her too, is that she was a mom. And I think it’s really hard to balance your activism and your career and your family. And her pattern was, she took a couple years off when her kids were small, and she just focused on her family life. But then she went back on the lecture circuit and spread the word. So I think her story’s been really helpful to me and is just one of those people that I feel like, “Yes, we Christians, we need to know her story, and we need to celebrate the work that she did.”

Jennifer Grisham:
Yeah, that’s great.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
One of the people that I really got to love in researching for this book was Aimee Semple McPherson. I remember hearing about her in seminary class many years ago, just very briefly. And she was spoken of sort of disparagingly as a floozy, I think was the kind of way she was characterized. And so I never really thought much about her, but I stumbled onto her story because I had an opportunity to visit the temple right here in Los Angeles. I was at a conference, and it was right next door. And so I was able to tour the museum, and I really began to see what this woman had done. And so when we were working on the book, I got some of her biographies out and really dug into her story.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
She suffered so many hardships. She started life as a missionary, went to China with her husband, got pregnant, and then he died. And so she had to come home from the mission field by herself as a single parent and figure out what to do with her life. So she got remarried, but that husband divorced her because she wasn’t willing to give up her call to ministry. She was a visionary. She was an entrepreneur. She pioneered Christian radio in the United States because she realized that was the way to get the message to people who couldn’t come to church on Sunday.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
She developed this thing which she called the illustrated sermon. She was out here near Hollywood. And so they staged basically Bible plays on Sunday so that anybody could come in and understand the message. She was so ahead of her time in insisting on racial equality. She supported unmarried women who were having children. She found a way to collect and distribute food during the Great Depression. Her church actually did more than the city of Los Angeles did to help people who were suffering at that time period. Powerful men didn’t like her though. Pastors of her day were jealous of her church’s size and its influence. And some of the secular city leaders didn’t like her either because of her strong stand on temperance, but she managed to persevere, and she showed all the myriad ways that women can be involved in fulfilling their calling.

Jennifer Grisham:
That’s amazing. Yeah. Those are such powerful stories of Ida B. Wells and of Aimee Semple McPherson. Thank you for sharing those. As you both mentioned, there were definitely hardships and things that both of those women came in contact with that prevented them or hindered them from what they were trying to do and what their aims were. And that’s something that I actually noticed throughout the book was that each woman that was discussed really had a different sort of obstacle that she faced, but there were overall patterns of how women face these obstacles, but then how they also turned those then into opportunities. I’d love to hear some more about maybe what those patterns look like starting way back when, and then kind of fast forwarding to today. Some of those patterns may still exist, but some of them maybe have changed. And so I’m curious to hear more about those patterns as a whole.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
Yeah. So we draw out various patterns, as you say, in the book. And one of the big ones that we noted throughout history—and we were not the first ones to note this, but we saw it very clearly—is that as ministries or movements get started, women are often welcomed as full partners in the work. But then as those movements or ministries get established, which usually means they become more socially acceptable, they become more respectable, they move from the margins of society to the center, then women find themselves pushed out and no longer welcomed. And so we saw that pattern starting in the early church and continuing right up to the present day. Even ministries that women start may be taken over by men. And we showed several of these in the book. Sometimes women were okay with that shift, but a lot of times they didn’t really want their work to be taken over, but they couldn’t do anything about it.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
A second pattern that we noticed is just how creative and resilient women could be. Every single era we looked at had some kind of constraints that they wanted to place on women. For example, in medieval society, women were viewed as more earthly or more physical and men as more spiritual. And so medieval women mystics used that understanding of their physical nature to emulate Christ in his physical suffering or by feeding or by fasting, right? So they were emulating that bodily pattern and using that constraint. And then the last pattern, and I think maybe Anneke I think this is the saddest one of all, is just how women’s stories get erased from the historical record. Sometimes women are just left out, but sometimes they’re intentionally removed. So again, we tell stories of those African initiated churches that were started by women and later taken over by men as they became more respectable.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
But then not only that, the written records of the church were changed so that it looked like men founded them in the first place. Similar things happened with some of the Chinese revival movements where women were most influential, but the historical record has been revised to focus almost exclusively on the men who were doing the work. In one case in the 19th century, a man wrote his memoir, praising the women preachers who’d influenced him, and a few years later, his wife updated it, and she removed all those women. So those patterns, they’re clear and they’re sad, but we wanted to show them so that people are at least aware that these things do happen. Yeah.

Jennifer Grisham:
Yeah. I think that was something that came through as I was reading through the book was how many women were part of such big important movements that maybe may not have been recognized later. There were movements in the Chinese church, for example, where women were really heavily involved in missions to Korea from China and how women were then kind of erased from those stories as well. And that being a global pattern, not just any one particular place, but it’s everywhere.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
Yeah.

Jennifer Grisham:
Yeah. So you were talking about some of these different eras, and it seemed to me that each different era shifted and changed what the expectations were for women at the time and what opportunities existed for them. And there were so many big shifts through the past 2,000 years of history, of course, but a few of those, like the Reformation, as an example of a time that things shifted significantly within the church and within broader society. And the industrialization era and the Great Awakenings that kind of came on the coattails of industrialization. So I would love to hear a little bit more about how these movements impacted expectations for women and what they could do to serve the Lord.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
Yeah. I love to talk with my students about those same ones that you just mentioned, especially the Reformation, because a lot of us that are Protestant, we grew up where marriage was the pinnacle. That was the goal. You never thought you were going to be single. You always assumed you were going to get married. And so I love to talk with my students about the fact that actually prior to the Reformation, being married was not the ideal of Christian life. It was being celibate. The exact opposite. So for the first 1,500 years of the church, it was those monks and nuns that were seen as being the ideal Christians. And they were the ones seen as really serving the mission of the church and giving up all of these things, giving up family life, giving up sex, giving up their possessions, putting themselves under a superior in their monastic order.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
And so that really was the ideal for those first few years. And then, I mean, Martin Luther is significant for lots and lots of reasons, but what we highlight in the book is his perspective on marriage. He was a monk. That’s what he was. And then he decided to get married, and he told everybody else that the best thing to do was to not become a monk, but to serve God through building a holy family, getting married, having children, raising them in the Lord. And he married Katie, who was a former nun. And so this is really significant. And I think it’s a mixed bag for women and for men. On one hand, you get this affirmation of marriage, which you don’t see earlier in the history. And so as a married woman, I found that really helpful to be like, yes, marriage is a really sanctifying experience. I grow in holiness through the struggles that come in family life.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
But on the flip side, the sad thing for the Protestant reformers is that they came to denigrate celibacy. And so there ended up being no place if you were someone that didn’t get married, or if you actually wanted to dedicate your life to God for the sake of the kingdom as Jesus himself encourages us to do, there was kind of no place for you in the Protestant church until the missionary movements. And then you see, especially single women being called to the mission field in order to help spread the gospel to women that otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive the gospel from men in these cultures. So I think those are some really important shifts that you see with the Reformation.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
And the other one, you mentioned industrialization. So the Industrial Revolution, this is really interesting too, because Leanne was already mentioning that in the medieval era, women were seen as more fleshly, more carnal, more into sex, more sinful, more likely to be tempted. Like women are the dangerous ones and they’re the ones that are not virtuous.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
And then with the Industrial Revolution, all of that starts to shift, and suddenly women are the ones that are lifted up on a pedestal. You have this notion of women as the angel in the house. The men are out there working in the public sphere of business where you have to sacrifice some of your morals to get ahead in the business world, whereas women—and it’s white women of middle class or higher status—but those women are seen as being in this more sanctified sphere of the home. And so that’s another just opposite shift from women being seen as lower than men to women being seen as higher. And it’s another place where you see women using these constraints of their time. So, okay. We’re seen as more holy and spiritual, shouldn’t that mean that we should be able to go out in society and spread the gospel and bring God’s good news to the poor?

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
So they used their supposed moral superiority (which for the record, I don’t think men or women are naturally more superior than the other, but the cultural idea was that they were), so then they kind of took that idea and said, “Shouldn’t this also pave the way for us to be able to work outside the home in social justice causes?” So that was kind of a cool thing. I feel like that they were able to use that constraint to still be able to go out and follow the Lord’s leading into some of these spheres of ministry. And I do think it’s important to say too, when we talk about these women using the constraints of their culture and changing norms, that wasn’t really their mode of being. I wouldn’t even call these women feminists. They get interpreted sometimes as having some feminist aims, but they were just women that were trying to serve God. They felt called to preach good news to the poor or to go overseas or to work against certain causes. So they were really just trying to be faithful to God.

Jennifer Grisham:
Yeah. That’s a great point. Yeah. One thing that stuck out to me in the section on the Reformation was how the church prior to the Reformation had different offices—technically, maybe not offices is the right word—but different positions that were available to women within the church. Nuns as an example that probably most people are familiar with, but there were lots of other opportunities that were available. And then once the Reformation hit, it was kind of the pastor’s wife was then what was left. And so it was interesting to recognize to go back and look at that and say, “Oh, I recognize this.” And so, it’s fascinating to study our history and see things that look similar or different and recognize just different ways that our present has been shaped by our past.

Jennifer Grisham:
Yeah. So, you talked about a few of these different ways that women over the centuries had done ministry in different ways, and generally it just looks different than many of the men that we know well. Like Luther, like you mentioned, or like John Calvin or Augustine or John Wesley. And I would like to quote one bit from the book here: “What women see and how they reflect the image of God and humanity sometimes differs from what men see and reflect. Both perspectives matter to humanity’s engagement with God’s mandates to care for and build the kingdom. Like facets of a diamond reflecting the divine image, we need to see and hear from one another in order to appreciate the fullness of the beauty of who God is.”

Jennifer Grisham:
I felt like that was such a great quote to explain this is about all of us together as one body. This is a diamond that we’re all looking at together, and we all get to experience in our own personal ways. That it’s still the diamond. That hasn’t changed. And so I’d love to hear a little bit more about how women as a whole and maybe individual—maybe there’s some women that you would like to call out—have impacted the theology and practice of the church. And not just in a Western context or an American context, but even globally, because this is a global story that you’ve told in the book.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
So women did do some of those things that you mentioned, like preaching and thinking. And I think Anneke will talk a little bit more about them. But one of the things we really noticed is that throughout all the eras we looked at, women were often at the forefront in leading ministries of healing and care for those who were on the margins. From their position, whatever that was, they seemed to notice and understand both the need and the opportunity that was involved in reaching people who were perhaps marginalized. And so whether that was providing education to girls in locations where girls weren’t usually educated or whether it was providing medical care in similar situations where women couldn’t be treated by a male doctor.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
And then in those same situations, training teachers and training nurses and training women as doctors to be able to carry on that work. Those were the things that women noticed and took advantage of and did so often throughout history. And they used those opportunities, those entrances as it were, to be a place to share the gospel, They said, “We’re doing this because we love Jesus. And let us tell you about this Jesus who compels us to offer you this service or to help you or to care for you.” So that was part of the practice, but I don’t think you can disentangle practice and theology, right? They go together. We live them out.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
Yeah, that was one of the things I was kind of looking for. Ways that women shaped theology, even if they didn’t just sit down and write a systematic theology, right? Many of the early church martyrs were women. And so what did it look like for these women who were killed for their faith to then shape a theology of suffering or to shape the idea of what does it actually look like to follow Jesus? What does it look like to take up your cross? One of these women in Leon, so modern day France, she was actually crucified like Jesus. She was up there with her arms out. And so how did that shape the perception of people that see her there? So, that’s one thing. And keep in mind too, that in the early church, these women’s stories and the male martyrs and all the other kind of heroes of the faith, these were stories that would’ve been told every year on the anniversary of their death. And so people grew up hearing their stories, and it continued to shape how they thought about their faith. And so we’re calling that a theological influence.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
You also see it in the Middle Ages. A lot of women ended up being mystics. So what that means is that they would get a vision from God, either in a dream or just they would be awake and all of a sudden they would be kind of aware of this other reality of God revealing things to them or they would have a word from the Lord. And so a lot of these visions for these women in the Middle Ages, they were of Jesus in his bodily form. Like Jesus the man, Jesus the baby in the manger. They would have visions of these things, And then what would happen is they would tell people about their visions. And so people would learn more, would learn to meditate on the life of Christ in a new way because of these visions. And so we’ve also described that as a way in which these women mystics in the Middle Ages were shaping theology.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
So prior to this time, the dominant image of Christ was as king. So the kingship of Christ, but then in part, because of some of these women’s visions, the medieval church starts to think more about Christ’s humanity, his bodily humanity and his suffering. And so you start to see crucifixes, so Christ his body up on the cross, not just an empty cross. You start seeing crucifixes during this time as well. So this whole shift in medieval theology is in part, not entirely, but in part kind of caused by some of the work that these women were doing in terms of sharing their visions and drawing people to a closer discipleship relationship with Jesus.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
So one last example, African churches that were founded by women, they were really successful. And in part it was because they were attending to two issues that mission churches just didn’t really take seriously: witchcraft and women’s struggles with barrenness. And there was often a connection there, like a witch in the village would’ve put a curse on a woman, and then she can’t have a child. And so these women that founded these churches, they realized these were real concerns. And there was some real spiritual power taking place here, but Christ’s power is stronger. And so these women would teach on that. They would have healing ministries kind of casting out demons, exorcism type of ministries. So this too, I think, is a place where you see the ministry of women shaping the church in particular ways because they’re able to see things that maybe either men didn’t see or maybe missionaries, because they were from a different context, didn’t see. But these African women, they saw and they were used by God in this situation to bring the healing power.

Jennifer Grisham:
Yeah. That’s really powerful. Thank you both for sharing those stories. So one of the things that really struck me as I was going through the book was just how unflaggingly these dozens of women in the book served the church for all of the things that came easily and things that came more difficult. And what I would love to hear as we’re moving toward a close, but I would love to hear a little bit about how it makes a difference when we know these stories. What does it change for us when we know dozens and hundreds of stories like the ones from these women?

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
Yeah. Well, for one thing, we won’t keep acting like women in ministry is just a twentieth- or twenty-first century phenomenon. I was chatting with a student last week, and I mentioned that and said, “Maybe you aren’t hearing that at church anymore.” And she said, “Oh no, no, no. That’s very much still what I hear at church.” Right? This idea that women being involved in ministry is somehow a new thing. It’s not a new thing.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
Another thing that we really hoped this book would do was show that the box that the present-day evangelical church has landed on for women, which is sort of that marriage and motherhood is your highest calling, that that box is too small. Women throughout history have served God in so many ways and being married and having children and caring your family is a fantastic ministry, but it’s far from the only ministry that women can do. And so we want to show that women could be nuns or they could stay single, or not be a nun or they could get married and not have children. And all of these options are fine, and God calls and blesses through all of these kinds of ways for women to serve.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
Yeah. I think a more accurate account of women’s contributions would help women to not leave the church. I hear stories about women who say, “Well, I didn’t fit this one model. So I concluded that the faith wasn’t for me.” Well, that’s a terrible conclusion to come to, right? And so we want to show that women can love God and serve him in so many different ways. And maybe we won’t lose quite as many women from the church.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
Yeah, definitely. When I think about the books I’ve read in history classes and some of these textbooks, people are getting much better at including stories of women. But the thing I think that is hard is that they’re always just sort of like a sidebar. You have the regular story and then, oh, by the way, there’s Hildegard and then the regular story and okay, maybe we’ll talk about Aimee Semple McPherson or something. But what I would love to see is just the whole story. I kind of wish we didn’t have to write our book. I wish the book just existed with all of this together, but we’re just not there yet. And unfortunately, when you are given a church history textbook with just a couple of women scattered throughout it, it’s just not truthful. That is not actually the true story.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
Women have been involved in this whole overarching history. And we just basically need to figure out a better way to tell the story of the church. It’s not like people have intentionally left women out. It’s mostly that we’ve valued certain things like who has written the theology book? Okay, mostly men. Who has founded the new denomination? Some women have, but we’ve told the story in a way. Who’s been the bishops? It’s been mostly men. So we’ve chosen to tell the story that way. And we could choose to tell the story in a way that encounters more of the women instead of just sort of cherry picking a few on top.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
And I think if we told the story in a more inclusive way, it would just help women in today’s world to not feel like second-class citizens and to not feel like their story is somehow peripheral to the main story of the church. I think we need to be creative in how we tell that story so that everybody knows, “No, this has been the whole history. And there is diversity in this history. There are so many different ways to serve God.” And I hope that our book is not just a book for women or something. I hope our book is just a book that everybody can read and help us all to think about better ways of telling our shared overarching history of the church.

Jennifer Grisham:
Yeah. I would definitely echo that this is not a book for women or a book for kids. It’s a book for everybody. This is a book that really is enriching no matter who you are or where you’re coming from. And so I would definitely encourage picking up a copy of the book. It’s Women in the Mission of the Church: Their Opportunities and Obstacles Throughout Christian History. And so I’d love to end with this one question and I’d love to just get a little bit practical here. So after spending some time in this book—somebody picks it up, they do some reading and start to really encounter the stories of these women. What’s something that you wish people would consider or start to do differently? What change or practical things do you hope might happen on the other side of this book?

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
Hmm. Yeah. I mean, I think we just want the stories to be told. That’s really the thing. And like we said, it’s not just for women. My big hope is for pastors to read it, because there’s so many opportunities in a sermon, say, to tell a little story to illustrate something you’re talking about. And what I think would be really cool is just for stories of women and stories of men to be able to fill that pulpit space, to be able to encourage all of us. I’ve been really compelled lately, by the way in which Jesus did that. He didn’t just affirm men. He called certain men in his ministry an exemplar of the faith like, “Look to this person, they’re an example to you.” But he also at the very same time would call a woman.

Dr. Anneke Stasson:
So the woman who had that issue with blood and she pulled on his cloak and she was healed and he affirms her, too. So he reaches out and sees both women and men, and he doesn’t put women into a box and say, “Okay, women, you’re the ones that need to be nurturing and you need to be sweet and caring. And men, you’re the ones that need to be strong.” He actually said, “No, here’s all the virtues. And here’s what all of you need to be trying to do. And all of you fall short.” So I would hope that our book could help to go some distance towards just helping all of us to follow where God is calling us.

Dr. Leanne Dzubinski:
I would, I absolutely completely agree with that. And I would add for the women who do read it, one of the things we really hope is that it will help them feel like they don’t have to start from scratch, as it were, in figuring out their calling. Because it can be hard if you’re called to ministry as a woman, you might be the only one in your seminary class or whatever. This book offers so many illustrations of what women can do and they can serve as virtual mentors, if you will, right? For women who are moving into some vocation of Christian service to see, “Oh, these are the things that women have done in the past. These are the things that I could do.” And so we hope that it will help women with a calling to get involved earlier and more easily in obeying whatever it is that God’s asking them to do.

Jennifer Grisham:
Yeah, that’s fantastic. I definitely think that it expanded my creativity of what’s even possible. So yeah, I think that the book itself is a blessing. So make sure you pick up a copy, pick it up on Logos and you can actually search and read more about individual women. You can open the Factbook and find even more resources about each individual woman or more of her works that she’s written depending on who she is. And so I would definitely encourage you to pick up the book.

Jennifer Grisham:
So thank you so much, Dr. Dzubinski, Dr. Stasson, for joining us today. Thank you to everyone who’s been watching at home or at work or wherever you are. This has been a fantastic conversation, and I’m really excited that we got to have it.

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Written by
Jason Brueckner

Jason Brueckner is the Sr. Community Manager at Faithlife. He has a master’s in biblical exegesis from Wheaton College Graduate School and over a decade of experience with digital marketing, church communications, and ministry.

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Written by Jason Brueckner