Speaker Carolyn James stresses building relationships and sharing experiences
To view an interview with Carolyn James, click here.
Thought-provoking discussion was on the menu as a group of Fuller students and friends gathered in the Catalyst student center for a brown-bag lunch with writer, speaker, and women’s advocate Carolyn Curtis James.
James is president of the Whitby Forum and Synergy Women’s Network, two organizations that seek to support women as they minister alongside men. Her talk and subsequent discussion time centered on ways women in ministry and other professions can better network and learn from one another.
“When you graduate from seminary, you’re on your own,” said James. Many in ministry are the only woman on a staff of men, and feel isolated from other women in positions similar to theirs. “It’s a hard place to be,” noted James. “There is a need for women to come together, to talk to each other, to help each other.”
James works to address this need through Synergy, which holds conferences that bring women in vocational ministry together for connecting and encouragement. Since the Synergy effort began in 2004, she said, it has taken on a life of its own, networking women at all different stages of ministry. “When these women gather, relationships are forged that help a woman take her ministry to the next level,” James explained. “When she runs into problems or questions in her work, she has new resources to draw on. She knows who to call.’”
“The twenty-first century landscape for women is one of extremes,” James went on to say, with such powerful leaders as Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton at one end, and powerless victims of sexual trafficking and other forms of exploitation at the other. In the midst of this, “What is the Bible’s message to me as a woman?” James asked.
The book of Genesis, she said, shows that “We are God’s image bearers: Both men and women are called to be like God.” We are also “Ezer warriors,” called to “serve in the battle” alongside our brothers. And when God blessed both man and woman at Creation, he called them to do his work together in a “blessed alliance.” This means building relationships of trust with one another—with men and with other women, she stressed.
James’s talk was followed by a time for discussion and sharing of personal experiences.
In addition to her work with Synergy and the Whitby Forum, James is the author of four books: When Life and Beliefs Collide; Lost Women of the Bible: The Women We Thought We Knew; Understanding Purpose; and The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules.