Progressive Christian Leader Rachel Held Evans Dies at 37
Rachel Held Evans, noted American Christian blogger, author and speaker, died at 37 on Saturday, May 4 after spending weeks in a medically-induced coma.
ChristianHeadlines had previously reported that Evans had been placed in the coma on Good Friday due to seizures caused by medications used to treat an infection for which Evans had been hospitalized. Since then, Evans' husband, Dan, had been updating followers on her condition through her blog. In his post of this morning, May 4, Dan Evans wrote:
Rachel died early Saturday morning, May 4, 2019.
This entire experience is surreal. I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake. I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story. I cannot express how much the support means to me and our kids. To everyone who has prayed, called, texted, driven, flown, given of themselves physically and financially to help ease this burden: Thank you. We are privileged. Rachel’s presence in this world was a gift to us all and her work will long survive her.
A mother of two, Evans was raised in evangelical Christianity but for years had no longer considered herself a part of evangelicalism. She had joined the Episcopal church, taking aim at the American Christian right-wing establishment in her Tweets and in books like Evolving in Monkey Town, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and Searching for Sunday. Her final book, Inspired, was published in 2018.
As reported by Slate, "High-profile female writers and speakers in American evangelicalism have traditionally focused on spiritual questions, and shied away from controversy and confrontation. But Evans often used her platform to challenge male pastors and leaders" such as Russell Moore and John Piper. In recent years, Evans co-founded the Evolving Faith conference with colleagues Sarah Bessey and Jeff Chu.
Bessey, herself a well-known author of such works as Jesus Feminist, Tweeted earlier Saturday:
It is with a broken heart that I share that @rachelheldevans passed away early this morning. She was surrounded by her family and her close friends - we sang, prayed, held her always. Woman of valour, eshet chayil. Official update: https://t.co/WYznnc5tYh— Sarah Bessey (@sarahbessey) May 4, 2019
Evans will be remembered by some for her liberal interpretations of Scripture, especially as pertained to political issues and social justice, but by others as a trailblazer for several of today's rising female Christian voices such as her friend and contemporary Jen Hatmaker, who Tweeted her farewell:
Pastor Brian Zahnd remembered Evans by sharing part of her own final blog post:
The last word's of @rachelheldevans's last blog post (Ash Wednesday):— Brian Zahnd (@BrianZahnd) May 4, 2019
Death is a part of life. My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality, and that you will know you are not alone.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. -RHE pic.twitter.com/G86j4RDwa1
Publication date: May 4, 2019