LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Evelyn Stagg, 96, a trailblazer for
Southern Baptist women in ministry, died Feb. 28.
Born Evelyn Owen in Ruston, La., she was married for 66
years to Frank Stagg, a professor at two Southern Baptist Convention seminaries
for more than 30 years, who died in 2001.
In 1978 they co-authored Woman in the
World of Jesus, a work that inspired a generation of women preparing for
ministry until more conservative voices seized control of the denomination and
went on record against women’s ordination.
The book addressed women’s roles in the contemporary church
by exploring the status of women in the world that Jesus entered, how Jesus
related to women in his ministry and the status of women in the New Testament
Between 1935 and 1938, while Frank Stagg was enrolled in the
master of divinity program at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Louisville, Ky., Evelyn took the same classes and sat for all the exams.
In those days the seminary did not grant degrees to women,
but she performed well enough that she was asked to grade papers for beginning
students in New Testament Greek.
Throughout their marriage, she worked behind the scenes as
the first reader and unofficial editor for dozens of journal articles and 10
books written by her husband.
In later years Mercer University awarded her an honorary
degree to recognize her early scholastic achievement and lifetime of shared
She is survived by her three children, six grandchildren and
three great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a future date.
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