Women's History Month

by Ben Boswell on February 19, 2024

Our Bodies, Our Choice, Our Voice

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are excited to welcome Rev. Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters to MPBC to preach in worship and then speak in the Faith and Community Class on Sunday, March 10th. Dr. Peters is Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University. In addition to teaching ethics courses in the Religious Studies department, she offers courses in the Poverty and Social Justice, Environmental Studies, Honors, and Women and Gender Studies programs.  She is the Founding Director of Elon's Poverty and Social Justice program and represents Elon on the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) where she served as the Board Chair for 2017-18.

Her work as a feminist social ethicist is focused on globalization, economic, environmental, and reproductive justice. Her book, In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of Globalization (Continuum, 2004), won the 2003 Trinity Book Prize and her second monograph, Solidarity Ethics: Transformation in a Globalized World was published by Fortress Press in 2014. She has also co-edited five books including Justice in a Global Economy: Strategies for Home, Community and World (Westminster/John Knox, 2006) and To Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christians (Westminster/John Knox, 2008); the most recent, Abortion and Religion: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives was published in January 2023 (T&T Clark). She is the past President of the American Academy of Religion, Southeast Region and is Elon University’s 2011-12 Distinguished Scholar. 

Her latest book Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice was published by Beacon Press in 2018. She was on sabbatical for the 2022-23 academic year and is the PI for the Abortion & Religion Project, which is interviewing 500 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women having abortions across the country.

Peters is an ordained PCUSA minister and is active denominationally and ecumenically. She chaired the PCUSA task force on Just Globalization and represents the PCUSA as a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. She served as a PRRI Public Fellow from 2018-2021 and was recently elected as Vice President of the Society of Christian Ethics. You can find out more about her work at  rebeccatoddpeters.com

Milestones Empowering Women to Leadership at MPBC

Women have played a vital role in the life and leadership of MPBC. Here is a partial timeline of some significant milestones:

1943 | Mrs. Alice Berman is hired as the congregation’s first minister of music, becoming the first woman to serve in
the church’s leadership.

1963 | Stunned by the bombings of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, the Women of the Church issues a statement to the congregation calling for immediate action toward racial justice. Led by church member Betty Jo Hamrick, the statement decried: “The terrible reality of our indifference is upon us.” Now was the time, Hamrick said, for the congregation to become personally involved in the peaceful movement toward desegregation.

1968 | MPBC sponsors a school for migrant children. Church members Edith Collins and Mary Pinson serve as the primary instructors, and a dozen other church members are trained as to volunteer in the Hendersonville migrant camps.

1970 | Lake Dickson, Mary Kratt, Mary Lib Laine, and Priscilla Upchurch become the first women to be elected to the MPBC board of deacons.

1971 | Sarah Bryant opened the first Planned Parenthood of Greater Charlotte. It all began in 1971 with a red rotary telephone in the den of Bryant’s home and quickly grew. She and a team of friends raised money and opened a clinic in a retired doctor's office on East Morehead.

1973 | Bonnie E. Cone is elected as the first female congregant to serve as the chair of deacons.

1979 | Despite negative publicity, MPBC welcomes the openly lesbian Episcopal priest Carter Hayward into the Free Pulpit. Hayward then becomes the first openly queer minister to address the church.

1980 | Robin P. Coira becomes the first woman to be ordained by MPBC. She will later join the pastoral staff as Executive Minister.

1994 | Fran and George Kerr lead the congregation to consider its response over the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people within the church. They begin a seven-year steering committee that hosts discussions, plays, and guest speakers to address the need for stronger inclusion and affirmation.

1994 | Jeanne Robertson worked to have the first Habitat House built in the Lakewood Community.

2011 | Believing that MPBC can help combat environmental injustice, church member Kate Green, head of the EarthKeepers group, successfully led an initiative to install twenty solar panels on the roof of the Cornwell Center.

2019 | The first black woman to serve on the MPBC pastoral staff, Mia M. McClain is hired as Associate Minister of Faith Formation and Outreach.

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