SheLeads Summit 2018: CHURCHTOGETHER

(updated December 14, 2018)

The SheLeads Summit 2018: ChurchTogether focused on women and men together in ministry, especially in light of the #metoo movement.  Calvin Seminary served as a host for this summit, combining video feeds with a live panel.

Whether you missed the conference or wanted to revisit some of the conversation, the resources below are for you.


SheLeads Summit Charts Progress of Women in Ministry, by Chris Meehan, CRC Communications

Video of onsite panel at Calvin Seminary:

SheLeads:ChurchTogether Summit 2018 — Panel Discussion — November 30, 2018 from Calvin Theological Seminary on Vimeo.





The National Speaker Lineup Includes:

Session 1:  Oneya Fennell Okuwobi

Longing for ChurchTogether: Leading from the In-Between Spaces

Feeling a call to lead and speak on God’s behalf is an experience of being filled and asked to let it overflow. When there are limited opportunities to let it overflow and when those limitations come from broken gender ideals within the church, it causes real pain to women. Oneya shares her stories of that pain and the hope that keeps her pressing forward.

Okuwobi has a BA in Economics from University of Virginia; M.Div from Regent University, and is a PhD Candidate (Sociology) at The Ohio State University. She is a founding elder of the 21Century Church in Cincinnati, OH.

Session 2: Mark Labberton

Cultivating ChurchTogether: How Men Can Foster Cultures Where Women Thrive

Labberton shares his experience in pastoral ministry and his role as Fuller President, welcoming women to step into their calling and shaping a culture that does the same.

A Washington State native, Labberton earned his bachelors degree from Whitman College, an MDiv from Fuller Seminary, and has authored several books including, The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing others Through the Eyes of Jesus (2010) and The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice (2007).

Session 3: Jo Saxton

Becoming ChurchTogether: Embodying Reconciliation Between Men and Women

Saxton shares the ways that men in her life welcomed her into leadership and leveraged influence on behalf of her calling. We’ll be invited to imagine what can happen when men and women work together in the spoken and embodied proclamation of God’s reconciling work.

Saxton is an author, speaker, leadership coach, and entrepreneur who develops and empowers women while challenging societal stereotypes.  She is an author of a number of books including More than Enchanting: Breaking Through Barriers to Influence Your World and High Heels and Holiness: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Living Life.  


The Local Panelists Lineup Includes:

Gary Burge (Facilitator) – Professor, Calvin Seminary

Gary Burge joined Calvin Seminary in 2017 after serving for 25 years on the faculty of Wheaton College in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Univ. of California, Fuller Seminary, and Aberdeen University (Scotland). He is also ordained in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.  His academic specialty is the New Testament where he concentrates on the historical Jesus and the Gospel of John. He has also taken up an interest in the interplay between faith and politics in the conflicts between Israel and Palestine. He and his wife Carol live in Grand Rapids and have two daughters.


Emmett Harrison – Lead Pastor, Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Church

Emmett is married to Emily for 36 years. Together they have six children and 22 grandchildren.

He was ordained in the CRC in 1985 (ordained in the Missionary Baptist Church 1979.) Emmett has served six years as the Assistant Pastor of the Roseland Christian Ministries Center in  Chicago, IL, twenty-two years as Senior Pastor of the Eastside CRC in Cleveland, OH. Emmett currently serves as lead pastor of Oakdale Park CRC in Grand Rapids, Michigan as of January 2012. He served as a delegate to Synod six times and was the first person of color to be elected as a Synod Officer, vice president in 2004.

Li (Mary) Ma – Research Fellow, Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, Calvin College

Ma is a research fellow at the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College. She holds a PhD in sociology from Cornell University. Her book (co-authored with Jin Li) Surviving the State, Remaking the Church: A Sociological Portrait of Christians in Mainland China was listed as Top Ten Books of Mission Research in 2017 by the International Bulletin of Mission Research. She is currently working on her next book titled Daughters of God: Christianity, Femininity and Social Change in Contemporary Urban China. She also writes on social issues for public media in the Chinese-speaking world.


Amy Schenkel – U.S. National Director & Great Lakes Regional Mission Leader, Resonate Global Mission

Amy Schenkel is a CRCNA pastor, serving the denomination in her role as USA Director and Great Lakes Regional Mission Leader at Resonate Global Mission.  Together with her team, they help churches and leaders develop a missional imagination for being the church in their post-Christian communities. In her free time, Amy stays active trying to complete her annual goal of an athletic quint-peat: a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, triathlon, and adventure race in 2019!


Geoff Vandermolen – Director of Vocational Formation, Calvin Seminary

Geoff Vandermolen both grew up in and spent the vast majority of his pastoral ministry time in Canada as a pastor and church planter. He is married to Kristin who partners in great adventures, who is a fantastic mom, a person of great care and empathy, and a therapist. Geoff and Kristin get to be a parents to Gillian (17) and Simon (15). Geoff takes great delight in being married for 27 years to his wife and the life they have as a family.  In ministry, Geoff has been blessed to have always pastored in contexts which expected the gifts, leadership, and calling of women to be not simply present, but depended on for the fullest expression of leadership, of the human experience, and the understanding of God to be made evident. He is honored to be part of this conversation.