Lance Pape came up with the idea for in 2001 when he was young and idealistic. He’s much older now, but still convinced it was a good idea.

Change is in the Air:
A Few Words from the Editor

February 4, 2005 is approaching its fourth birthday and change is in the air. I am stepping down as editor while Chris Hutson (current “Readings” editor) and Chad Smith (well-known to readers of the “Forum”) are stepping in to put together an editorial board that will bring fresh perspective and renewed passion to the task. I am grateful for their ability and willingness to pursue this work. I hope and trust that there are happy days ahead for the community, and especially for the cause it seeks to promote.

I would like to take this opportunity to express deep gratitude to those who have spent their precious resources of time, energy, and especially reputation on behalf of this effort. You know who you are. And thanks also to the hundreds of people who sent notes of encouragement along the way. There are more of you out there than you realize!

The end of my involvement with is actually just one part of some big changes for Katie and me. After 11 years of co-ministry together in the Church of Christ, we will both be changing course. In keeping with the spirit of, I’ll let Katie speak for herself about her plans. (Look for her to post something here soon.)

Those of you who know me well will probably not be surprised to learn that we are headed to Georgia where I’ll begin Ph.D. work in homiletics under the tutelage of Tom Long at Emory this fall. Preaching has always been my true passion. This opportunity to study homiletics under one of the great preachers of our time is a dream come true. I have peace about this decision. It is increasingly clear to me that my true vocation is to serve God’s church by training preachers. I have a lot of work to do on the way to answering that call, but for the first time in a long time I can see that my course is laid out clearly before me, and I feel eager and confident to meet the challenges ahead.

As Katie’s post will make clear, our family’s move to Georgia will also mean the end (or at least the indefinite suspension) of our relationship with a local Church of Christ. From where we stand, this is not so much the result of our decision to leave as it is the consequence of the cold reality that the Church of Christ has simply not made a place for the preaching ministry of Katie and women like her. We tried for a while, but it is, frankly, not sane to make all of our life decisions within the constraint of living in close proximity to the handful of Churches of Christ that recognize the gifts of women. Brookline, MA; Birmingham, AL; West Islip, NY; Stamford, CT—these are all lovely places but my opportunity lies elsewhere. This simply brings into sharper relief something we have known all along: these few outposts on the fringes of our fellowship do not by any stretch constitute, nor even symbolize, a significant change toward embracing the full range of women’s gifts in the Church of Christ. These places are the miniscule exceptions that accentuate the pervasive rule. There are now perhaps a few more people willing to entertain talk about gender justice. There are still precious few who dare to do anything about it.

My own sense is that this is a critical moment for advocates of gender justice in the Church of Christ. Early progress has triggered a formidable backlash. The outcome of this struggle is still uncertain and depends not on some assumed gradual progress in the thinking of the many who are unconvinced, but rather on the timely courage of the few who are completely convinced. Will the few who know better have the courage to practice their convictions—to integrate what they believe and what they do, what they say in private and what they say in public?

And if not, then…what?

At the very least this: The time for whispering encouragement to promising young women behind closed office doors has passed. In light of what I now know, I have more respect for the sincere practitioner of patriarchy than for the egalitarian who would encourage a young woman to take up her cross and run the gauntlet of the Powers alone. The benevolent patriarch does not throw his daughter to the wolves. How much less the true egalitarian!

Those who are fully convinced must either choose to stand publicly and unequivocally with gifted women on the side of justice, or they must be forthright about their refusal to do so. They must begin to tell our gifted young women the truth, even if the truth turns out to be that they should run, not walk, to find a church context that embraces and celebrates the miracle of God’s gift and calling in them. This is not a radical idea; it is common Kingdom sense. And if this means, as it surely will, that we must begin to bless the leaving of many, so be it. Perhaps then the pain of the status quo will begin at long last to match the often-cited “pain of change” that has resulted in so much hand-wringing and so little justice in the past.