The Role of Young Activist Women in the Lutheran Church

Sally Fifield

UNCSW16 - 4I was raised Lutheran, identify as Lutheran, feel comfortable in the Lutheran Church, but I struggle with the church. I question the space the church has made for young women, like me, who crave an institution that questions the status quo, that demands justice, dignity, and protection for all our neighbors, and that puts social justice and activism in the center of the church.

Growing up in the church I was encouraged to participate in service projects and mission trips. While in hindsight that work was problematic in the relationship dynamic it created, it did lay a foundation for faith in service and in action with the community. I craved this active and moving faith that was modeled for me.

As a young adult I have looked for new home churches that reflect my ideals and values, but have found that the way church is structured now is for middle class, white families that are comfortable with tradition. When you are looking for the faith-based activist community for young single 20-somethings, you might want to invest in a community outside of the church.

For this very reason, I was excited and hesitant to attend the Commission on the Status of Women with the Young Adult Cohort of the ELCA. While at the conference, I was confronted with my old, out-of-date ideas of the church being a stagnant status quo institution because I was surrounded by so many bad-ass, radical, political, and feminist women that are shaking things up within church to wake up to its problematic habits that reinforce forms and practices of oppression and injustice.

The Commission on the Status of Women also woke me up to the fact that I have plenty of progress and movement to make myself. I was able to scratch the surface on the issues rising up in the migrant crisis both in Europe and North America.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see that faith can be the reason why people strive for a more just world. I hope to continue breaking stereotypes of the church ladies and showing people that us church ladies are young, single, feminist, and in the front lines for the fight for justice.



One thought on “The Role of Young Activist Women in the Lutheran Church

  1. Sally, thank you for expressing your own struggles and opportunities for learning. I have had similar experiences with my Catholic faith/community. It was in finding communities of women religious (“nuns,” in common parlance) and the Catholic Worker that I found community that blew apart my notions of Christianity. Whereas I used to struggle with identifying as Christian because of the perceived political and social connotations, I’m now preparing to enter a religious community myself. I still struggle with using words like “prayer” and “discernment.” But I’m hopeful knowing that there are other socially-justice-minded people from all faith backgrounds, including those within Christianity. Thank you for sharing in the struggle.


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