Home  Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship  Mallory Challis – 2024 Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Mallory Challis – 2024 Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship Recipient

A photo by Roger Epps of Mallory Challis smiling for the camera.
Mallory Challis

The eleventh annual Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by Christian Feminism Today, has been awarded to Mallory Challis, a Master of Divinity student studying at Wake Forest School of Divinity in Winston Salem, NC.

After earning her B.A. in Religious Studies at Wingate University in Wingate, NC, Challis, who also works as a freelance journalist and columnist with Baptist News Global, plans to seek ordination in the Baptist Church.

Challis realized her calling to ministry as a high school student. She writes, “I quickly learned that God’s call will not be stifled by gender roles. It was when I began my undergraduate degree . . . that I started to hear the voices of women in the Bible with the gusto they deserve.”

During her studies, she has learned to use a feminist lens to formulate “critical and liberatory interpretations” of the very texts that were cited in the attempt to dissuade her from pursuing ministry. In studying the scriptural accounts of women’s lives, Challis “felt the liberating joy of exploring the biblical text without the limitations of gender roles . . . finding life and light as I leaned in and allowed myself to fully imagine the possibilities of God’s call.”

Challis notes that, as a journalist and scholar, Christian feminism is essential to every piece of work she produces: “Feminist theory is the primary framework through which I interpret and discuss the biblical text in academic settings and is the impactful lens through which I practice ministry in local church settings.”

Utilizing feminist theory in her undergraduate work, she conducted research projects that explored sexual chastity in the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles and purity culture in the modern evangelical church. One of those papers, “Martyrs of Chastity: Illuminating the Power of Peter’s Disabled Daughter and Drusiana in the Apocryphal Acts, was published this year in the online Johns Hopkins Richard Macksey Undergraduate Journal.

Challis is committed to teaching congregants of all ages, genders, and intersectional identities to lift up the voices of “those who seem hidden” in the biblical text. The excluded “others” are present throughout the Bible and church history as well as in the church today. It’s imperative, she maintains, to name the ways those “others” are made in the image of and beloved by God.

A photo by Michael Martin of Mallory Challis sitting cross-legged on the ground with a stack of textbooks on her lap.
Mallory Challis

Challis highlights three interrelated social justice issues that must be the concern of contemporary Christian feminism:

  • sentiments of shame related to sex and sexuality as a result of evangelical purity culture,
  • the pervasiveness of sexual violence in our churches and in our world, and
  • the subsequent war on reproductive rights fueled by patriarchal religious ideology.

In closing her application essay, she writes “Christian feminism has positively impacted the ways in which I experience Christianity and Christian scholarship and has shaped me into an empathetic and social justice-oriented believer and leader today, and I hope to utilize these frameworks to facilitate a better, more inclusive church in the future.”

A photo by Roger Epps of the 2024 Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship recipient, Mallory Challis, studying at Wake Forest Divinity School.
Mallory Challis at Wake Forest