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Women in the Mission of the Church

Their Opportunities and Obstacles throughout Christian History

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Outreach 2022 Resource of the Year (Theology and Biblical Studies)

2021 ASM (American Society of Missiology) Book of the Year Award

Women have been central to the work of Christian ministry and actively involved in the growth of the worldwide Christian church from the time of Jesus to the twenty-first century. Yet the story of Christianity is too often told as a story of men.

This accessibly written book tells the story of faithful women throughout church history, demonstrating their integral participation in the church's mission. It highlights the legacies of a wide variety of women, showing how they have overcome obstacles to their ministries and have transformed cultural constraints to spread the gospel and build the church. Each section of the book covers a different period of church history and introduces readers to significant women and themes of a specific era.

Women in the Mission of the Church is well suited for professors and students in courses on mission or church history. Pastors, church leaders, mission organization leaders, field missionaries, and lay readers in women's groups or missions groups will also value this work.


Introduction: Women in Ministry Is Not a Twentieth-Century Phenomenon
Part 1: Women's Leadership in the Early Church
1. Patrons, Missionaries, Apostles, Widows, and Martyrs
2. Virgins, Scholars, Desert Mothers, and Deacons
Part 2: Women's Leadership in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages
3. Mothers, Sisters, Empresses, and Queens
4. Medieval Nuns
5. Beguines and Mystics
Part 3: Women's Leadership Since the Reformation
6. Women Preachers in America
7. Social Justice Activists
8. Denominational Missionaries and Bible Women
9. Faith Missionaries, Evangelists, and Church Founders
Conclusion: Women's Leadership in the Church


"For two millennia the stories Christians have told about God's work through humankind have been remarkably truncated--focusing almost exclusively on men to the detriment of the entire story of God's redemptive work. Women, too, have played--and continue to play--just as important a role as men in the overarching story line, and it is long past time that we correct our perspective. Women in the Mission of the Church is one of the more significant works over the past few decades that begins to address this gap. My hope and prayer is that this book will continue the process of igniting the correction of our story line so that it appropriately reflects the fact that women have been just as remarkably engaged in all facets of God's mission as men have. As a man, I deeply appreciate how Women in the Mission of the Church has enriched my understanding of and appreciation for women's active and engaging participation in God's mission over the two millennia since Christ died for all humankind."

Scott Moreau, academic dean, Wheaton College Graduate School

"Professors Dzubinski and Stasson provide the church and the academy with a wonderfully engaging, accessible, and inspiring collection of stories of women's leadership in mission that highlights how women have lived out their abilities, gifts, and callings in the church through the ages. Even when constrained by male-dominated church authorities throughout history, women have consistently challenged not only those who would restrain them but the reigning gender-based ideologies that governed them, and they have done so through their persistent and fruitful ministries and their faithfulness to God and God's calling. This is a book that should be on every Christian's bookshelf!"

Bonnie Sue Lewis, professor emerita, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

"A wide-angle portrait of a beautiful history of women in the Christian church through the ages! This is a story praising the accomplishments of Christian women as mystics and mothers, monastics and missionaries, and so much more. Some of these women were famous, while others lived lives of quiet faithfulness. This book is also a clear-eyed examination of the obstacles women have faced in the church that will give readers today--both women and men--encouragement to face contemporary obstacles in ministry with tenacity and grace."

Benjamin L. Hartley, adjunct instructor, Seattle Pacific University; chairperson of the American Society of Missiology Board of Publications

The Authors

  1. Leanne M. Dzubinski
    Gregory Philips

    Leanne M. Dzubinski

    Leanne M. Dzubinski (PhD, University of Georgia) is professor of leadership and director of the Beeson International Center at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. She previously taught at Biola University and served for more than twenty-five...

    Continue reading about Leanne M. Dzubinski

  2. Anneke H. Stasson
    © Will Solomon

    Anneke H. Stasson

    Anneke H. Stasson (PhD, Boston University) is associate professor of humanities and history at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. Her current research addresses the relationship between Christianity and cultural conceptions of gender, marriage,...

    Continue reading about Anneke H. Stasson


Outreach 2022 Resource of the Year (Theology and Biblical Studies)
2021 ASM (American Society of Missiology) Book of the Year Award

"A comprehensive and accessible guide to the names and stories of women in the history of the church who have, sadly, been too often ignored. The authors bring to life the unknown and remind us of those who deserve being remembered. One cannot read this Theology and Biblical Studies resource of the year without both learning and regretting the blanket of silence over the achievements of so many."

Scot McKnight,


"Women in the Mission of the Church fills a gap that is most acutely felt by female academics, students, and ministry leaders. It begins to answer the frustrating question experienced by most female seminarians, 'Where are the women?' Dzubinski and Stasson have made an important contribution to our understanding of church history by highlighting the contributions of women in every major historical period. . . . Using ample historical evidence and a plethora of scholarly sources, this book makes it clear that women are not an addendum to church history. Rather, their experiences, ministries, passions, and lives were critical for the survival and development of Christianity. . . . [This book] contains hope for women today that they, too, have the power to use obstacles for even greater impact in their churches, communities, and societies."

Gina A. Zurlo,

International Bulletin of Mission Research

"A concise, accessible, and well-researched volume suitable for a spectrum of audiences, from pastors and laity alike to students in a college or seminary course offering a survey of church history, women in church history and theology, world mission, or global Christianity. Its succinctness, courageous discussion of hard topics, inclusion of powerful new stories heretofore unexplored, and value of the contributions of women from a diverse assortment of backgrounds make this an important resource."

Karen R. J. Murphy,

Christian Scholar's Review

"Women in the Mission of the Church is for professors, pastors, and anyone who cares about the whole of the church being equipped to carry on God's mission in diverse ways. By learning and sharing the stories of women living out their faith throughout history, the church can stop repeating mistakes of the past and raise up new generations of women dedicated to service."

Chelsea C. Hurlburt,

International Review of Mission