I currently work as a Youth Participation Consultant with my business Creatively Empowering and I also do some freelance writing. I live in Aylesbury with Pete, my husband, who works part time as a youth minister in Uxbridge and part-time as a Field-work Tutor/Lecturer for Oasis College. We both live in Aylesbury on a new housing estate and are on the leadership team of a pioneering church there. All of this allows me to think outside the box and approach life creatively!
Tell us about your leadership journey. What projects and work are you involved in?
Leadership for me started when I was a teenager in my church context, where I was part of a team that started a regional youth event. Throughout the years I have led as a mentor, youth worker, church leader and thought leader.
One example of a project which I am involved with is the Alchemy Project, where I am on the global management team. The Alchemy Project is a community of practice aiming to reshape Bible engagement with disruptive innovation.
Youth participation as an area is getting quite exciting as it involves the next generation of digital natives. There are many more ways to create opportunities for their empowerment.
You’ve recently become a Trustee of Sophia Network. Please tell us about some of your personal experiences, which have made you passionate about championing the equality of women and men in the church?
I didn't think that there was an issue with gender equality in the UK until I was in my mid-twenties because I was nurtured by a family (especially my father) to believe that I could choose to do anything, the only restriction was merit or skill-set and not my gender that would influence. So when I was in my mid-late twenties I experienced situations where others thought gender was an issue and also saw some of my peers go through similar situations.
One of my ancestors was a suffragette and I have always admired the stance that took to ensure women had the vote and now I am pleased to join her legacy as a Trustee to continue to champion the equality of men and women in the church.
There have been many ‘glass ceilings’ broken this year. What do you think has been the most momentous breakthrough this year in terms of gender equality?
From my perspective, it would have to be the synod passing through women bishops. It was long overdue and is one huge step in changing the ecclesial culture. However, every glass ceiling is momentous for the women affected by the glass in the first place.
Looking back at 2014, who has been your gender equality ‘hero’ of the year? Please share why?
From a personal perspective, I will have to say two heros, who also happen to be the founders of Sophia Network; Jenny Baker and Sharon Prior. Both have influenced the networks which I am part of in terms of actively advocating gender equality in the church on a local and national scale but also walking alongside me and my peers in the challenges we face and inputting into my personal life as a leader.
The Sophia Network Trustees recently met in London for a Vision Day to dream and plan for the future. Can you share some of the exciting ideas for the future of Sophia?
I am really excited about the direction in which Sophia is heading and the first meeting with the new team of trustees demonstrated what a wealth of experience and skills the new trustees have.
We had alot of ideas for the future and two areas we are interested in developing is advocacy and support for women in difficult circumstances. In particular, we hope to work with individual churches to create strategies which achieve gender equality contexts.
Another area we hope to action is to provide HR and legal expertise to individuals with work place issues in terms of gender inequality. Therefore, maximising on Sophia as a key network of gender justice.
In your view, what are some of the simple ways that we can all promote the equal value of women and men in our daily lives and relationships and be actively part of this change?
I believe social awareness is key. This brings several opportunities to our relationships; the first is that awareness, which allows us to be concious of one another's skills, which can encourage skill growth and the creation of opportunites for skills to be used.
The second is awareness that enables open discussion and dialogue between those who hold differing opinions on gender equality. I look at how Jesus was in community and dialogue with those who thought differently to him and sometimes we have to be committed to a long term incarnational dialogue to demonstrate to others about gender equality. That is never clean or simple but is a daily commitment.
The third and most important is prayer. Praying for the cause of gender equality, those affected by inequality and centring on God's strength in these circumstances.
Fourthly, being socially aware enables our vision and action to be put into helping others affected by gender inequality and by working to change the cultures which encourage gender inequality.
And finally, if we came round to your house at 6pm on Christmas Day, what would you be doing?
One of three things; probably chasing after my nephews with their new toys, blobbing in front of a Christmas film, or snoozing after the Christmas meal.
As well as being a new Trustee of Sophia Network, Lizzie runs her own business called Creatively Empowering and is involved in The Alchemy Project.