Black Women Preachers Call for Equity and Justice in the Black Church

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by Liz A.
Ella Baker, a Black Woman
Bayard Rustin, an out gay man
Both pioneers
in the greatest movement of our time…

“The “invitation only” meeting of all-men gathered by the Bishop-Elect of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship was not billed as a gathering of men God is using. It was billed as THE leaders God is using in this time, as the “movers” and “shakers” in the Kingdom.  It smacked of spiritual elitism and, frankly, arrogance.”
- Rev. Valerie Bridgeman, Ph.D. Biblical and Homiletics Scholar  

Purported to be the “greatest movement of the 21st century” Bishop Joseph Walker, the Presiding Bishop-Elect for the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, recently organized a “by invitation only” meeting to discuss the future of the Black Church. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss “a progressive agenda to promote church, social and political reform” via a five point foundational platform called the SHIFT. Among the invited, were notable Black male preachers such as Bishop Paul S. Morton, Bishop Donald Hilliard, and Pastor and Gospel Recording Artist, Smokie Norful.

In fact, Black men seemed to be the only people invited, while Black women and LGBTQI faith leaders were excluded. When confronted on why there were no Black women at the meeting, Bishop Joseph Walker’s response was “women were invited but NONE were able to attend” and there was no mentioning of LGBTQI faith leaders. Contrary to Bishop Walkers intent, his failure to ensure that Black women and LGBTQI identified faith leaders were among the invited, is marginalizing and silencing. Despite major advances made by Womanist and LGBTQI religions scholars and theologians in dismantling the patriarchal, sexist and homophobic nature of Black church tradition, the SHIFT is evidentiary of how much work still needs to be done. And fortunately, there are prophets among us, who are committed to doing the work.

Spear headed by Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, a Biblical, Homiletics and Womanist Scholar and President & CEO of WomanPreach! Inc a non-profit organization that brings preachers into full prophetic voice around issues of equity and justice both in the pulpit and in the public arena, Womanist and Black feminist scholars, practitioner, seminarians and allies have gathered together in an Open Letter to openly challenge Bishop Walker and to call for a conversation to discuss and perhaps remind him that yes, GOD calls Black women and Queer folk.

Read an Open Letter to Presiding Bishop-Elect Joseph W. Walker III and the “By Invitation Only” Attendees of the Inaugural Meeting of the SHIFT 


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Liz A. is a woman on a journey of becoming. She is currently a Social Worker in training and Seminarian.

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