Women Missing in Church History: Filling Out the Historical Record – Week 2

This article is part of the series Pursuing Partnership: Men and Women in Ministry.

Based on Women in the Mission of the Church, by Dzubinski/Stasson
http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com
(Used by permission: Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2021)


An Introduction
By Rebecca Hopkins www.rebeccahopkins.org

Meet Rebecca Jackson. She was a black woman from the 1800s. She preached the Gospel. And she received death threats for doing so—from Methodist ministers.[1]

They even told her exactly how they would do it. She might be stoned, set on fire, or forced into a barrel with spikes and pushed down a hill. But she preached anyway, drawing courage from God as her strength.[2]

Jackson’s is just one of the many stories that researcher and university professor Leanne Dzubinski and historian Anneke Stasson share in their new book, “Women in the Mission of the Church, Their Opportunities and Obstacles throughout Christian History.”

The problem isn’t that readers haven’t spent the time learning about women ministers, preachers and missionaries. The problem is that women are largely missing altogether from recorded history of the church and her mission through the ages, the authors argue.  They were often viewed by their peers as inferior, weak or irrational. Many historians have focused on the founders and major leaders of movements and denominations, most of whom were men. And in some cases, women have intentionally chosen to be anonymous in their literary contributions due to modesty. [3]

But they’re not missing from the actual work. Women leading, preaching and ministering aren’t a new concept, brought in by modernism or feminism. And they aren’t a rare breed—only a few exceptions to a rule that men, not women, are the ones entrusted with God’s call. Women have been following God’s call to spread the Gospel since the beginning of Christ’s ministry and in an ongoing and relentless manner throughout history. They’ve done so in spite of many obstacles and threats. And they have the power to inspire a new generation of men and women to partner well together in God’s work. [4]

“Through their prayers, activism, theology, art, preaching, teaching, patronage, mystical visions and child-rearing, they ministered to God and to God’s people,” the authors wrote. “Taking a big picture perspective and showing the persistent, faithful participation of women throughout history reveals that women are not marginal; we are central to God’s story.” [5]

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be presenting the ideas from each of the chapters. Let it be an invitation to see the true beauty of what happens when men and women work together in the mission of the church. Learn these names. Widen your view of how God works. And go forth with the courage of Rebecca Jackson.


[1] Leanne Dzubinski, Anneke Stasson, “Women in the Mission of the Church, Their Opportunities and Obstacles throughout Christian History” (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021), 132.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Dzubinski, Stasson, “Women in the Mission of the Church,” 2-4.

[4] Dzubinski, Stasson, “Women in the Mission of the Church,” 5-6.

[5] Dzubinski, Stasson, “Women in the Mission of the Church,” 2, 9.


This article is submitted by Wendy Wilson of Missio Nexus and of Women’s Development Track.  Women’s Development Track is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.


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