This week, I had the gift of spending some time with long-time (S)HERO, Nancy Beach. When I first began my leadership journey over 20 years ago, Nancy Beach was one of first women I saw leading and teaching at the highest levels of the church. She led a large area of the church, was respected internationally for her leadership in the creative arts, and regularly spoke to thousands of women AND men (what?!?!). I could hardly imagine a future like that for myself.
Fast forward about 10 years, my path connected more with hers and she began investing into my life and leadership. Along the way, Nancy has been a trusted, crucial voice in chapters of transition and decision-making.
If you don’t know Nancy, she was one of the key leaders who broke the silence of the abuse at Willow Creek Community Church with Bill Hybels. It has cost her deeply and her bravery has profoundly impacted me. But she’s owning her whole story, raising her voice so women can be equal partners with men in life and leadership.
A couple weeks ago Nancy was in Australia and New Zealand speaking about the #churchtoo movement, how men and women better partner together in healthy ways. Her brilliant daughter, Samantha, joined her to illustrate the messages with poignant stories. She enthusiastically shared her experience and art with us.
Listen to this powerful leader! I had a giant lump in my throat watching both of her pieces.
Samantha reflected on her experience in a Facebook post:
“I spent my last day down under climbing a volcano. It was weird! On this island, there are still big stretches of lava rocks where it is impossible to believe anything could grow. But most of the island is v lush. So I read all the infographics to figure out dis mystery. Apparently post-volcano, the WIND carried teeny seeds over that became moss and that became other plants and that attracted birds which carried other seeds and now there are 200 species of native plants and trees. On an island with NO SOIL. There are orchids!
It’s been about a year since my mom and others made public the abuse that had occurred behind the scenes at my beloved childhood church. We, and many, are still sifting through the wreckage.
But these past two weeks, seeds took root amongst church leaders in Australia and NZ who choose to enter into the #churchtoo conversation. My mom accepted the invitation to lead a series of conferences around the issue and she asked me to create a few pieces to support her teaching.
The church is lightyears behind on matters of power/gender/abuse. We are islands of dead rocks.
So thank God for the wind factor. That there are little signs of life where it doesn’t make sense that there would be. Like a lot of pastors who drive on the wrong side of the road coming together to make this an urgent priority. Like my mom leading and teaching on this stuff after she was burned by it.
I am so crazy proud of her. (That feeling makes me feel old!) I will always remember this trip together.”