Lead pastor Eugene Cho believes likewise. Three qualities, he says, encapsulate Gail’s leadership. First, she’s a pastor at heart, a shepherd who desires to care for people, particularly those on the margins. Second, her prophetic spirit balances with the aspects of her pastoral side for a most holy and lethal combination. She speaks prophetically about issues of racial inequity—particularly when it comes to the realities of black and brown congregants—yet doesn’t forget to actually care for them either. Third, she’s practical; the church cares about formation and discipleship, which directly affects them on the ground, especially in a city like Seattle. Bantum constantly asks questions like, “How does this impact one’s daily living?” “How does one embody what they think or believe?” And, “How does a community embody those convictions?” It’s no wonder that Bantum’s leadership, vision, and giftedness has helped bring explosive growth to the Quest community.
For Bantum, the Christian church still has a long way to go, particularly when it comes to conversations of racial healing and true reconciliation, the lack of women in positions of executive leadership, and an inability to develop leaders of color. It’s easy to see the innumerable gaps that still exist inside the intersection of both race and gender within the church.
But I can’t help think that this reluctant pastor will only continue to rise in the future.
So, I’ll end with what she loves to say to emerging leaders, especially leaders of color: “Resist the powers that would try to keep you from being the fullness of who you were created to be, and persist after your own thriving—your joys, your gifts, and your loves! Your thriving, after all, is your greatest protest.”
Cara Meredith is a writer and speaker from Seattle, Washington. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and co-host of Shalom in the City's monthly book club podcast. She holds a Master’s of Theology (Fuller Seminary), and can be found on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.