Dr. Nancy A. Hardesty, one of the earliest voices in evangelical Christian feminism, died in Atlanta on April 8 after two years of treatment for pancreatic cancer. She was 69 years old.
In 1974 she co-authored All We’re Meant To Be: A Biblical Approach to Women’s Liberation with Letha Dawson Scanzoni. Presenting a new reading of Bible passages traditionally used to limit women’s roles in the church, home, and society, this book was a major factor in launching the biblical feminist movement in the 1970s.
Christianity Today magazine called All We’re Meant to Be one of the “landmark titles that changed the way we think, talk, witness, worship, and live,” ranking it 23rd among the top fifty books published from 1956 to 2006.
“For better or for worse, no evangelical marriage or institution has been able to ignore the ideas in this book,” noted the editors. Originally published by Word Books, it stayed in print with revised editions from Abingdon and Eerdmans.
A professor of religion at Clemson University in South Carolina, Hardesty had also taught at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, and Emory University in Atlanta. She held a doctorate in the history of Christianity from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
Earlier she worked as an editor for both The Christian Century and Eternity magazines, coming into contact with Scanzoni in 1968 through an article submitted to Eternity.
Hardesty’s other books include Women Called to Witness (Abingdon Press, 1984), Great Women of Faith (Baker, 1980), Inclusive Language in the Church (John Knox, 1987), 'Your Daughters Shall Prophesy': Revivalism and Feminism in the Age of Finney (Carlson, 1991, and the University of Tennessee, 1999), and Faith Cure: Divine Healing in the Holiness and Pentecostal Movements (Hendrickson, 2003).
She also helped found Daughters of Sarah, a Christian feminist magazine published in Chicago from 1974 to1995. Born in 1941 in Lima, Ohio, she was raised in the Christian and Missionary Alliance and graduated from Wheaton College in 1963.
Private family services are planned, and a memorial celebration of her life will be held at the 2012 conference of the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus, the organization founded by Hardesty, Scanzoni, and others in 1974.
“Some Thoughts on Living and Dying,” her reflection published three months ago in EEWC’s quarterly journal, Christian Feminism Today, may be found at
Gifts in her memory may be sent to EEWC—Christian Feminism Today, P.O. Box 78171, Indianapolis, IN 46278-0171.
For more information, contact Linda Bieze, EEWC-CFT coordinator:
EEWC—CFT, P.O. Box 78171, Indianapolis IN 46278-0171