Christian Conference features an All-Female Speaking Roster

As I write this is the final day of Christianity 21 – a new kind of conference for A New Kind of Christian. C21 featured an entirely female speaking roster, but was not a women’s conference. (I know, shocking!) In fact, it has been reported that the men who are normally the big name speakers at these gigs (Doug Pagitt, Shane Clairborne, etc.) were all happily staffing the welcome tables and passing out the nametags.

I know, pinch me, right?

I will be the first to admit that one of the reasons I drifted away from the Emergent church movement was because I would meet all these amazing, progressive women at the conferences – and then walk into the main auditorium to watch the men speak. To be fair, there were loads of women presenting in the workshops. There were even some on the main stage. And yet, at every conference the women folk would also sit-in on sessions in which we explained to the men how systemic patriarchy –even within the emerging church  – was still marginalizing women. At the last such conference I attended I remember sitting next to the very egalitarian Mark Oestreicher and saying, “I feel really sad, and I think it’s because I can’t believe I’m still explaining this.” 

Shortly after that event it became clear to me that this was not my work. I began to see that I was called not to reform patriarchal structures from within, but to support women who were doing the reformational work outside of the organized church. So I said a bittersweet goodbye to the Emergent church and waited at a distance to see what happened.

Good things, it turns out.

My sisters who were called to stay and keep up the good work (and the brothers who “got it” and supported them) have broken some terrific ground. So it is with much pride and admiration that I features some of those women here today. All of these women spoke at Century 21, and all of them are doing innovative, progressive, creative work within church structures and/or within religious publishing. This collection features the handful who blog, and whom I know personally--either in real life or through our virtual connections. At their blogs you will find theology, motherhood, social justice, academic writing, creative writing, knitting…everything about their lives offered in a non-compartmentalized whole. I hope you will find new withmates amongst this circle, and that they will inspire you to live your religious and spiritual beliefs with bravery and gusto.

May there be many more such egalitarian conferences in the future!


Magpie Girl’s Century 21 Round Up:

Kelly Bean: author, social justice advocate, and keep of the Third Saturday soultribe in Portland, Oregon.

Nadia Bloz-Webber at Sarcastic Lutheran: tattooed lady, pastor of the House for All Saints and Sinners, and author of Salvation on the Small Screen: 24 Hours of Christian Television.

Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping: mom, minister, participant in Emerging Women, and author of Everyday Justice.

Makeesha Fisher of Frenetic Peace: graphic designer, co-founder of Generate Magazine, and co-leader of a  missional faith community in Fort Collins, Colorado, Revolution.

Nanette Sawyer of Perfectly Imperfect: Harvard grad, founding pastor of Wicker Park Grace, and author of Hospitality: Discovering the hidden power of invitation and welcome.


Rachelle Mee-Chapman is a soulcare specialist, writer, and mother(ish) to several. Based in Seattle, she’s now living the expat life in Copenhagen, Denmark. You can find her at Magpie Girl, follow her on Twitter, or friend her at Facebook. Thanks for being here!

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