Anyone who publishes “best of” lists knows they usually generate plenty of criticism.
Whether it’s the 10 best college football teams or 50 best cities to raise kids, they come with the promise of push-back through social local, news reports or both.
Baylor University’s “12 Most Effective Preachers” lineup has been no exception.
Released earlier this month, the lineup has been criticized by some for having only one woman, and by others for its lack of theological diversity.
Ministers spoke out, too.
“When I saw Baylor’s list, my heart sank,” said Kyndall Rothaus, senior pastor at Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, and a graduate of Baylor’s Truett Theological Seminary, which compiled the list.
The list contained only one woman — and same one who had been the sole female the last time the list was compiled in 1996, Rothaus noted in her remarks emailed to Baptist News Global. As a result, the the women-led Nevertheless She Preached movement Rothaus co-founded was inspired to publish “12+ Preachers the English-speaking World Needs Right Now.”
Rothaus said it wasn’t difficult to pull the list together since clergy across the country were all over social media discussing the Baylor lineup.
“Given our current cultural climate and the power of the #metoo movement, I would have hoped to see greater awareness by the church that any preaching that demeans women is not only ineffective, it is downright destructive,” Rothaus said.
On its website, Nevertheless She Preached noted that Truett list lacked women of color and LGBTQ preachers. Included here are the first six preachers the organization offered in response, with the rest available through the group’s web site.
Traci Blackmon, executive minister of justice and local church ministries for the United Church of Christ.
“This is a woman who knows how to proclaim the gospel. She is truly a prophet in our midst, one whose voice tears down the walls of ignorance and ignites the fire of justice in anyone who has ears to hear.”
Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran minister and founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colo.
“Nadia’s obvious badassery and pulls-no-punches communication style combined with her homiletical expertise and commitment to her local congregation make her one of the most effective preachers we know.”
Jasmine Rose Smothers, an elder in the United Methodist Church and lead pastor of Atlanta’s First United Methodist Church.
She is recognized as a “renowned preacher, speaker, church consultant, and advocate” who is also an author and civil rights champion.
Irie Lynne Session, pastoral minister.
Session “brings to the pulpit years of experience in various fields, including (though not limited to) investigation with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in Dallas, pastoral ministry in many contexts, and tireless work with and on behalf of survivors of human trafficking and sexual abuse.”
Mihee Kim-Kort, ordained Presbyterian minister and author.
“Mihee Kim-Kort’s importance to homiletics can not be overstated. She disarmingly introduces complex intersectional identities through her engaging narrative approach to preaching.”
Katie Hays, lead evangelist at Galileo Church in Mansfield, Texas.
“Katie preaches from a stool and uses her biblical interpretation to provide a redemption of the biblical stories for people just finding a home in the church for maybe the first time.”