Erica Saunders – The 2017 Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship Recipient

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Erica SaundersThe fourth annual Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by Christian Feminism Today, has been awarded to Erica Saunders.

Erica Saunders is a rising second-year student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, where she is working toward a Master of Divinity degree. Originally from Asheboro, NC, she has a B.A. in French, Spanish, and philosophy and religion from Queens University of Charlotte.

After completing her M.Div., Erica aspires to be ordained in the Baptist tradition and to pursue a Ph.D. in New Testament. Her research interests include feminist and decolonizing approaches to the New Testament and the Pauline epistles, particularly the Corinthian correspondence. Through her scholarship she hopes to bring to the fore the voices of those who have been silenced, to “reconstruct New Testament sources whose voices have been lost to antiquity.”

Ms. Saunders cites the positive influence Christian feminism has had on her own spiritual development. “Growing up in a fundamentalist church that stressed literal interpretation of Scripture,” she recalls, “I was taught a religion of exclusion on the one hand and subjugation of women as lesser than men on the other.” Discovering Christian feminism as an undergraduate, says Ms. Saunders, “allowed me to turn from the darkness of self-hate toward acceptance as a woman ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Ps 139:14).”

In a recent women’s and gender studies symposium, Ms. Saunders presented a paper on 1 Cor 5–6 in which she offered “a reconstruction of Pauline sexual ethics for the Corinthian ekklēsia and communities like it that respects human dignity, bodily autonomy, and mistreatment of fellow humans” that reflects her interest in matters of sexual ethics, social justice, and their intersections.

The Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a student who aspires to exemplify the values and achievements of Nancy A. Hardesty, a founding member of the Christian Feminism Today organization, formerly known as EEWC (Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus). The purpose of the $1,000 scholarship, awarded every June, is to help a student who wants to be in a leadership role that supports and promotes Christian feminism.  Read more about the NAHMS here.

To make a donation to the Nancy A. Hardesty Memorial Scholarship fund, please click here.

Read a sermon presented by Ms. Saunders in March of 2017.

Follow her on Twitter (@realericagrace)