Carmen Fowler LaBerge heads the ministry of the Presbyterian Lay Committee as its President and Executive Editor. She also chairs the ecumenical leadership network, Common Ground Christian Network, co-convenes the LOVE2020 Apologetics group for Mission America Coalition and has been nominated to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Her blogs, articles, equipping bible studies and commentaries are accessible at www.layman.org.
Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1993 and having served churches in Texas, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, Fowler LaBerge set aside her ordination in 2011 after the denomination began openly ordaining those who do not limit their sexual expression to fidelity in the context of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness. Asked about her rationale, she commented, “I could not in good conscience continue as an officer in a denomination that openly ordained those whose behavior so clearly fails to conform to God’s revealed Word in the Scriptures. Ordination in the PCUSA is an act of the whole church. Knowing that if I were present, I could not participate in the laying on of hands of such an ordinand, I concluded that asking to be removed from the ordered ministry was the right step to take.”
Fowler LaBerge has since taken considerable criticism from those further to the right on the theological spectrum for whom women’s ordination causes similar concerns. LaBerge responds, “I fully respect both complimentarian and egalitarian interpretations. The confusion in our culture related to the male headship, mutual submission to Christ, the roles of men and women in a Christian household and in the church runs deep. Christians need to be leading the conversation and the reality is, many of the things that need most to be said can now only be said by a woman. Radical feminism has created a kind of toxicity toward male voices that robs them of a hearing. I do not face that particular challenge.”
A widely known leader among Presbyterian Church (USA) renewal organizations, Fowler LaBerge served as executive director of the Presbyterian Coalition in 2002 and 2003 and co-moderator of the New Wineskins Association of Churches in 2008-2009. She has taught seminars and delivered keynote speeches in dozens of states, Israel and Malawi. Her pastoral experience spans the spectrum from the 5,600-member First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla., to the 100- member Rabun Gap Presbyterian Church in the mountains of northeast Georgia. Fowler Laberge earned a degree in business administration from the University of Florida (’90) and a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary (’93). At Princeton she served the seminary and her fellow students as the moderator of the student government.
When asked to assess the current realities facing Christians today, Fowler Laberge sees the conversation shifting from marriage to religious liberty. Read her interview here with the Washington Examiner.
Her ecumenical work among mainline evangelicals has also exposed Fowler LaBerge to the realignment of the Church both in America and around the world. She says, “That realignment is in evidence not only among Presbyterians, but among Episcopalian/Anglicans, Lutherans, other Reformed Christians and Methodists. God is drawing together those who are not ashamed of the Gospel, those who submit their lives to the authority of the Scriptures, those who understand the calling of the church to be the Great Commission and are willing to live it out at risk of their own lives. We are privileged not only to ‘see’ what God is doing in our generation, but also to participate in it. Equipping the saints for the work of God’s mission is a worthy calling. Partnering with others around the world who share our passion is a great joy.” That passion motivates Fowler LaBerge to serve in ecumencial leadership groups like the Common Ground Christian Network, National Association of Evangelicals and the Mission America Coalition.
Fowler LaBerge resides in Kingston Springs, Tenn. with her husband, Jim. They wed in May 2011. Fowler LaBerge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Carmen S. Fowler called to be PLC president and executive editor
- Carmen Fowler: Her ‘Declaration’ launched her into the renewal ministry
- Carmen’s Speaking Engagements