50 Women You Should Know
"A period of intense doubt and questioning" led to her blog, a first book (Evolving in Monkey Town), and eventually leaving her local church, a decision Evans recounts in one of her most-read blog posts. (She and her husband tried unsuccessfully to start a house church last year.)
Evans's contrarian approach treads the path of many other "post-evangelicals," and her essays often read like Exhibit A for Barna Group's unChristian. With 1.2 million unique visitors to her blog in the past year, Evans is clearly striking a chord.—Katelyn Beaty, associate editor, Christianity Today
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gilead (Saint Martin's Press), Marilynne Robinson is a famed novelist and essayist. Influenced by John Calvin, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau, Robinson published her first novel, Housekeeping (Farrar, Straus Giroux), in 1980. Her 2008 novel, Home (Macmillan), won the Orange Prize for Fiction.
The widow of martyred missionary Jim Elliot, Elisabeth Elliot has written what have become staple books in many evangelical homes. She is the author of over 20 books, including Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (HarperCollins) and Passion and Purity (Revell).
A professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School, Lauren Winner writes and lectures widely on Christian practice, the history of Christianity in America, and Jewish-Christian relations. Her books include Real Sex (Brazos) and, most recently, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis (HarperOne).
Author of 10 volumes of poetry, Luci Shaw has been a writer in residence at Regent College (Vancouver) since 1988. She lectures on art and spirituality, the Christian imagination, poetry-writing, and journaling as an aid to artistic and spiritual growth. Her books include Breath for the Bones (Thomas Nelson) and The Genesis of It All (Paraclete). Shaw is poetry editor of quarterly journal Radix and poetry and fiction editor of Crux, a journal published by Regent.
Brenda Salter McNeil: Reconciler
In her racial reconciliation work, Brenda Salter McNeil tells the story of her friend "Sam," her nickname for the unnamed Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. McNeil speaks of Sam as a broken, marginalized woman in need of forgiveness and healing. McNeil uses Sam as the first credible witness of the kingdom of God because Jesus intentionally crossed barriers. Jesus' example stands at the heart of McNeil's preaching, teaching, and consulting ministry of reconciliation. She calls the church, God's harlot, to return to a right relationship with its first love, meanwhile calling people of different races, ethnicities, genders, and cultures to take the first steps toward reconciliation and justice.
"I want to suggest to you that Jesus is on trial," she said in one sermon. "We, the church, are the people sent into the world to corroborate his testimony. We're supposed to take the witness stand, and have enough credibility in how we do life together that people believe us. Amen?"
McNeil was propelled into national ministry after giving keynote addresses at the Urbana missions conferences. Her book The Heart of Racial Justice (IVP) challenges evangelical leaders and institutions to examine the impact of choices on racial, ethnic, and gender injustice in the church. Her work has shaped the policies of Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries across the country and the world.—Lisa Sharon Harper, director of mobilizing, Sojourners