by Nelson Hayashida
During a time when both society and church are emerging from an Apartheid state into a democratic nation, this book captures an authentic voice of those caught between affirmation of leadership and the reality of reluctant admission in the Baptist Church of South Africa.
William Carey Library, P.O. Box 40129, Pasadena, CA 91114, www.WCLBooks.com, 2005, 287 pages, $24.99.
—Reviewed by Cheri Pierson, assistant professor of intercultural studies/TESOL, Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, Illinois.
During a time when both society and church are emerging from an Apartheid state into a democratic nation, this book captures an authentic voice of those caught between affirmation of leadership and the reality of reluctant admission in the Baptist Church of South Africa. Through the use of oral and written stories, Nelson Hayashida (on faculty at American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, California) exposes the issues of women theologians in Africa and the Western world.
Responding to a question on current church practices regarding women, one individual’s story illustrates well some of the stresses respondents feel in terms of women and leadership in the church. In her full-time ministry experiences at a Durban church, this woman and others like her performed all the duties of deacons, but were each given the title of “management committee member.” The elderly deacons of the church claimed the scriptures were clear—women could not be deacons. Though they were allowed to serve in the capacity of a leader, these women were not given the title or authority of the position.
From the opening chapter to the concluding solution, Hayashida makes connections between the thoughts of Euro-American, Afro-American and African feminism, concerning the relationship of servanthood and the transformation of the church. After recording and summarizing the views and experiences of women and men in the BUSA and the BCSA, the author comparatively analyzes and evaluates the perspectives so as to suggest a strategy to “free BSCA churches for a liberating praxis in regard to church leadership.”
It is true that not all women’s experiences are culturally and sociologically similar in either the black or white churches of the BSCU. For this reason, the responses of these women and men should not be generalized to other denominations in South Africa or other parts of the world. However, this book is characterized by sound methodology and academic excellence and offers the reader an interesting case study to examine, ponder and discuss. Doing so may bring positive change to other faith communities in the area of women and leadership in the church.
Check these titles:
Fabella, Virginia and Mercy Amba Oduyoye, eds. 1994. With Passion and Compassion: Third World Women Doing Theology. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis.
Kanyoro, Musimbi R.A. and N. J. Njoroge, eds. 1996. Groaning in Faith: African Women in the Household of Faith. Nairobi: Acton Publishers.
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