I realized I was a feminist in college. Or maybe I should say I was born a feminist in college. You see, I did not know that the church denomination I grew up in allowed women to be pastors. When I found out during one of my freshman courses – it rocked my world.
I went to Roberts Wesleyan College – founded by B.T. Roberts – the same man who founded Free Methodism. Not only did I attend a FM Church since birth, but the four generations before me on my mother’s side attended the same church!
One day in class, we were discussing whether or not women were allowed to be ordained in everyone’s churches. I said no. And then, another student said that her aunt was an ordained minister in the FM Church. What?!?! How did I not know this?
In fact, the founder of our church and college, Mr. B.T. Roberts, himself, advocated for women to be ordained, and started the FM Church to give women that right. He also advocated minorities, and the poor.
Here I was going to a church rich in feminist heritage, but didn’t even know it because the particular community of faith I attended was still stuck in the 1950s. Apparently the whole denomination went through a legalistic period when women couldn’t wear jewelry or makeup,etc. The remnants were still present decades later – the small town church just couldn’t shake it. Unfortunately, this meant some sad times for women at the FM Church in Smalltown, USA.
With this enlightened information, I felt empowered. I signed up for the first-ever Women’s Studies class at my college. We studied health, theology, communication. It was amazing. Then we visited the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY, Susan B. Anthony’s home, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s home.
I learned so much…many of my old beliefs were challenged. I realized I could be a follower of Jesus and a feminist. I realized Jesus was a feminist. So, I went all in. I became the “I’m Feminist: hear me roar” woman on campus. I raised money for the local women ‘s shelter. I held a Clothesline Project campaign in the cafeteria. I volunteered in domestic violence court. I bought an inclusive language bible.
My awakening has impacted many of my actions since then. I may not go around “roaring” anymore. But the passion is still there. Being a feminist means I support women’s rights as equally as I do men’s. It means I stand up against violence towards women. It means I think women are just as capable for leadership roles. And so much more.
I want all followers of Jesus to understand that the women of the Bible were not passive nobodies. They had important roles. Despite the culture, Jesus treated women as equals. The church needs to be talking about this – especially in Smalltown, USA. I don’t want young girls and boys to be as surprised and shocked as I was in college. Or to be deprived of the truth that is so freeing.
Did you have an awakening in college? If so, tell us about it in the comments section!