Rachel Held Evans is a well-known name in contemporary Christian circles. Her blog posts have been featured on CNN, the Huffington Post, and on NPR.
She has drawn criticism for her stance on birth control, her dislike of praise music, and her decision to keep her maiden name when she got married.
In addition, she has authored two books, “Evolving in Monkey Town” and “The Year of Biblical Womenhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master.’”
Held Evans displayed the humor implied in the titles of her books as she led chapel on Wednesday, drawing laughs with several of her jokes, as were some of the controversial stances that have earned her criticism on Internet message boards. This included more jabs at praise bands, but also covered areas of social and political contention.
Perhaps most relevant for EMU, in light of the ongoing listening process, Held Evans spoke on what “Millennials” (people born approximately between the early 1980s to 2000s) want to see in their church, touching specifically on homosexuality.
“What we don’t want is to see our gay and lesbian friends turned away from the church,” Held Evans said.
She concluded her chapel speech with a short summary of what she believed the church should be.
“We’re not looking for a hipper Christianity, we’re looking for a truer Christianity,” said Held Evans.
The prominent blogger was on campus all day, also appearing during an 8 p.m. talk in Lehman chapel, during which she discussed the historical role of women in the Bible, a topic which she researched while writing her second book.
After her presentation, she took time to answer questions and sign books.
Students seemed receptive to Held Evans’ message whether or not they had previously been familiar with her work.
Despite the fact that she had, “Never heard of her [Held Evans] before today,” Senior Ranita Shenk appreciated the points raised during chapel, saying, “I thought she had interesting things to say about every generation’s search for Jesus, but we go about it in different ways.”
Junior Isaac King also went to hear Held Evans speak without prior knowledge of her books or blog and agreed with Shenk’s assessment of Held Evans, saying, “I thought she did a good job of articulating what I want in a church, and what my generation wants in a church.”
-David Yoder, Co-Editor In Chief; photo by Ellen Roth