A personal account of the growing recognition by John Stott and the Lausanne Movement of the gifting and acceptance of women in all aspects of Christian leadership in the task of world evangelisation
When it was decided to hold a second International Lausanne Congress in 1989 in Manila, a 10-person Planning Committee was set up to work on every aspect of the Conference. Each person represented a different part of the world and I was invited to join the Congress Committee representing Australasia. Nine men and I worked closely for five years in what was a challenging, exhilarating and spiritually enriching experience. John Stott, who had been the Chief Architect of the Lausanne Covenant that came out of Lausanne 74, was asked to be the Chief Architect of what was to become the Manila Manifesto.
Although John was not on the committee, he was advised along the way of the direction the Congress would take and the need for one significant change from 1974, which was the inclusion of women leaders, not only as delegates, but as plenary participants. John was very aware that at Lausanne I the representation of women was very small and that although two women were interviewed, no Bible Study was given by a woman, no plenary address was given by a woman and no acknowledgement was made of the significant contribution women had been making since the 1800s to taking the gospel to the world. Consequently, when the Lausanne Covenant was drawn up at the end of the Congress, it was as though women were invisible and were to remain so. However, times were changing and the Planning Committee for Lausanne II were of one mind that this must not be repeated in Manila.
I was invited to take one of the plenary Bible Studies at Lausanne II and to lead the 'Women in Evangelism' track, which was attended by so many hundreds of delegates— both men and women—that the organizers gave us the ballroom, which seated 1000 people! The evangelical tide was turning. This was shared with John Stott, who was very supportive, and the result was Affirmation 14 in the Manila Manifesto: 'We affirm that the gifts of the Spirit are distributed to all God's people, women and men, and that their partnership in evangelisation must be welcomed for the common good'. It was a small improvement on the Covenant, but it was a start. Another significant moment in the Congress was at the closing communion service when Rev. Dr Roberta Hestenes,
President of Eastern College, Pennsylvania, preached the sermon and co-presided at the service with Bishop John Reid. One participant at the Congress, a woman from Cameroon, wrote 'I will leave the Congress a new person, especially because of John Stott's messages, and the lady pastor who gave the address at the Communion Service. It awakened a spirit of evangelism in me ….. and as a woman I felt liberated to walk as a full member of the body of Christ.'¹1
After the Congress I was invited to be the Senior Associate for Women in World Evangelisation with the challenge of identifying international Christian women leaders (many of whom I had come to know in Manila), discovering , encouraging , equipping and mentoring younger women with leadership potential and a heart for taking the gospel to the world and organising international and regional conferences for women. One of the results of this was the formation of Alliance 2.29, an ongoing Lausanne Issue group which, under the leadership of a young man and woman, both theologians and missiologists, help Lausanne think through the biblical imperatives for world evangelisation that calls people to take the gospel to the world.
1989) p. 132.