Carmen Fowler is a rising leader in the Presbyterian Church USA, and a woman to watch.
Like many women before her, she's against "radical" feminists, but her life as a powerful woman in the church marks a path for others to follow. To read her life story, see:
She was one of many interesting people I met this past weekend while attending a meeting of the PCUSA's Advisory Committee for Social Witness Policy (ACSWP). I didn't notice her much, actually, because she was in the background--one of two women reporting on the meeting for conservative sub-groups within the spectrum of Presbyterian churches.
President of the Presbyterian Lay Committee and executive editor of its publications (primarily the Presbyterian Layman) since March, 2009, she attended the meeting to monitor decisions of the ACSWP, as did Marie Bowen of Presbyterians Pro-Life.
I was attending the meeting because last September a friend from college days had asked me to edit 100-page document down to 20 pages for the committee, and then to hear further requests and critiques at the meeting in order to do a final edit.
When I got back to California, I looked Carmen up online and was fascinated by what I read.
She got a BA in business at the University of Florida but "never met a radical feminist" until she attended Princeton Seminary in 1993, her biography reports.
The feminists she met there made "efforts to recruit her," arguing that "she couldn't expect to be in leadership in church unless she joined their ranks," the bio continues.
She proved them wrong, shooting to the top of leadership in the evangelical movement against gay and lesbian ordination in the PCUSA.
I like her, just as I liked Sarah Palin and was thrilled that she was chosen to run for the Vice-Presidency with John McCain.
Carmen got her start as a Christian in Young Life in high school, just as I did. At the time she was in the Methodist church.
I love the description of her closing sermon at Providence Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, before moving to the Layman.
She said, "You are not your own...Remember, you can do all things through Christ.... You are not alone.... You have not been given a spirit of timidity or fear."
Powerful words... I shout "Amen, sister!"
Her closing prayer on that occasion began, "Holy God, hear now the prayers of the faithful offered to You."
Not "Father God, we just ask you...."
Not "Heavenly Father...."
Not "Almighty King, we come before you...."
I call myself a "somewhat radical feminist," but I'm also an evangelical, and I see much room for dialogue with Carmen Fowler.
As for the boring statement I was asked to edit, it probably disappointed Carmen and Marie in that it had no references to abortion or to gay/lesbian issues.
It probably won't have a lot of readers, so I am delighted that they took time to read it and to attend the meeting this past weekend.