Despite their Church's ambivalent attitude toward them over the centuries, women continue to be essential to the spiritual backbone and transformed mind of faithful communities, even those in which their leadership roles are circumscribed by their gender.
If we are to properly value women as well as men as capable of bearing the image of God in this world, Kristina LaCelle-Peterson suggests, we must allow the rich feminine metaphors for God in Scripture to inform our prayer and worship.
Catherine Brekus recalls the itinerant women preachers who led Second Great Awakening revivals across America. These biblical feminists, she explains, "were caught between two worlds. They were too radical to be accepted by evangelicals, but too conservative to be accepted by women's rights activists." Michael Sciretti commends the insights of Anne Dutton, the eighteenth-century British Baptist whose writings were enthusiastically read for spiritual direction.
Heidi Hornik describes Giotto's remarkable program of frescoes in Padua's Arena Chapel that explore the role of the Virgin Mary in the life of Christ. And in the Orthodox icons that are unafraid to depict Mary with "signs of her suffering," Ralph Wood discovers a spiritual vision of feminine beauty. "Creased with the care of both love and sorrow," he observes, "it is a beauty that can finally behold even God face to face."
The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to explore women's discipleship. The study guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.