The Sophia Network exists to empower and equip women in leadership, and to champion the full equality of women and men in the church.
We believe that God created men and women to work together in partnership and full equality, and that both women and men are called to leadership in all areas of life. Our ultimate aim is to encourage women and men to work together more closely in a way that reflects the heart of God, but we recognize that sometimes issues need to be addressed before women can contribute on a level playing field.
We therefore have a particular focus on connecting women in leadership to access training, develop skills and grow as leaders. We also want to encourage both men and women to reflect on the role models they provide for young people, and the aspirations and expectations they are helping to shape.
We are a registered charity, number 1128538. We have a steering group of six trustees from across the UK who meet up throughout the year. We have over 1000 members. The Sophia Network was founded by Jenny Baker and Sharon Prior in 2007.
What we will do in 2014
- Website – continue to write a blog on gender and leadership; the website is a showcase for women’s writing; we increase the visibility of women in leadership through regular interviews and features.
- Regional meetings – we resource local groups of women in leadership who meet for support, learning, encouragement and development.
- Consultancy work around gender issues – helping churches and organisations who want to address gender equality.
- Training – on topics such as gender awareness, communication skills for women, working with girls.
- Theology – we’ve published the In the Image of God resource – 8 sessions on what the Bible says about women and men from an egalitarian perspective.
- Leadership development – DLG for young women – a residential weekend that develops leadership in girls; leadership learning groups for adults.
- Speaking – suggesting women speakers for events and conferences.
- Monthly email – keeping people up to date with relevant news and events.
- Networking – ensuring that the issues of equality and women in leadership are kept on the agenda of the church and Christian organisations.
- Equipping event - we facilitated an equipping event on 13 September 2014 in Birmingham with Jill Garrett.
Let's meet the Sophia Network Team...
Jennie Fytche is freelance children’s and youth work and pastoral care trainer and mentor. She has a background of 20 years of paediatric nursing experience in many contexts and over the last 10 years has integrated her children’s and youth work experience, nursing experience and theological training to empower children and young people and those who nurture them. She is passionate about the holistic care of children and young people within churches, schools and communities. Jennie lectures at several Bible colleges in England and works as the North East and East regional staff member for Acorn Christian Healing Foundation training in listening skills as a foundational skill for life and for effective ministry. Jennie is married to Ian and has two teenage daughters – she loves spending days retreating to the beach with her family!
Sharon Prior is co-founder of Sophia Network and a freelance trainer, leadership coach and mentor. She lectures in several Bible colleges in England on youth work, mentoring, teamwork and leadership, helping students to be more effective in their work for God. She is the part time minister at Beauchief Baptist Church, Sheffield and in her spare time she is an aerobics instructor, loves spending time with friends and eating Chinese food.Passionate about encouraging, empowering and resourcing women in leadership, she is Chair of Trustees of Sophia Network and hopes to see Sophia go from strength to strength as it seeks to support female leaders.
Dr Claire Rush is the current Participation & Advocacy Co-ordinator for Girls' Brigade England & Wales, Chair of Girls' Brigade Europe, International Vice-President of GB International and part of the Faculty of History Makers Europe. She is passionate about inspiring, equipping and empowering the next generation of 'Esthers'. Based in Northern Ireland, Claire has worked in a variety of youth work contexts and spoke and led equipping events in Australia, South Africa, Romania, Ukraine and Moldova. Claire has lectured at university on gender history, is the co-editor of Have Women Made a Difference?: Women in Irish Universities, 1850-2010 and completed her PhD on the development of female education in 2010. She loves travelling, books, movies, DVD box-sets, swimming and is married to Chris. Claire writes here and you can tweet Claire @drclairerush.
Ali Xavier is the Partnership Manager and Senior Fieldwork Tutor at Oasis College of Higher Education London, and has a small freelance training business. Having recently completed an MA in Education Management at Kings College, she is passionate about seeing people released into their full potential and finding creative ways of doing that! Ali is engaged to Eustace, leads worship in her local church, enjoys travel, baking, and is passionate about youth work.
The treasurer of the Sophia Network is Chloe Moss.
The Sophia Network is a registered charity: 1128538