As we near the end of Women’s History Month, we would like to feature a few of the women in our church to remind everyone that there are universal and unique ways in which womanhood is celebrated in the church and throughout the nation. Today we are speaking with Ruthie Sawyers (she/her), a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Tampa, Fla.

Responses have been edited for publication.

What women have inspired you, and why?

I’ve been inspired by so many, like actress Jameela Jamil, singer Lizzo and education activist Malala Yousafzai, but chief among them has to be my mom. She’s so strong and independent, I can’t wait to be as confident as she is!

How have you seen the role of women in the ELCA change during your time with the church?

I’ve seen a lot of change! Most memorable was Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton being elected. I was so excited to see women making positive changes in the ELCA and affirming our foundation of belief in the equality and love of Christ extending to everyone.

What do you believe are the most pressing issues facing all women today? How can the ELCA help with these causes?

The No. 1 most pressing issue is bodily autonomy. Women have the God-given right to make our own choices about our bodies. I’m not sure what the reach of the ELCA is, but maybe providing safe places for women to go when they need to travel for abortions? Something like that comes to mind.

How has your faith impacted your understanding of women’s history and the contributions of women to society?

I know that Jesus valued all women; it’s proven in the Bible! From sex workers to mothers, he showed compassion and nonjudgmental love to those who were struggling the most. Extending the mission of Christ to continue that legacy of respecting and valuing all women means a lot to me.

What actions do you think the ELCA could take to better support and empower women within the church and in the wider community?

Providing safe spaces, allowing women places in the conversations we have, encouraging young women and girls with truthful education, and following through on promises made to protect, embrace and empower women would be great ways to support the community.

Kelly Wilkerson
Kelly Wilkerson is a content strategist for the ELCA.

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