Rachel Held Evans, a bestselling Christian author "who was unafraid to wade into fierce theological battles over issues such as the role of women, science, LGBT issues and politics on her blog and social media," died May 4, the Washington Post reported. She was 37.
Her books, including A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head and Calling Her Husband 'Master'; Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Loving the Bible Again; Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church; and Evolving in Monkeytown (later republished under the title Faith Unraveled): How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions, "pushed theological boundaries for many conservative evangelicals, but they gave voice to many progressive evangelicals who had become frustrated with their churches," the Post wrote.
She served on a White House council for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships during President Obama's second term. Melissa Rogers, who was director of that White House office at the time, said, "Rachel brought her usual piercing insights and deep compassion to the council's work on poverty. She was also a beloved member of the team."
Rev. Broderick Greer, an Episcopal priest in Denver, said Evans "exemplified what it meant to care for the church without mindlessly supporting the injustices it's done in the name of Christ. This often meant watching Rachel courageously clash with those she disagreed with, publicly wrestling with ideas she found harmful."
Jonathan Merritt, a progressive Christian author and speaker, observed: "She was talking about misogyny in the church long before the #MeToo movement emerged, and she was affirming LGBT relationships on the grounds of her Christian convictions when doing so could still get you run out of town. Today, many voices are championing a more progressive expression of Christian faith, and Rachel helped create space for the movement we now see."
In her final blog post on March 6, Ash Wednesday, she wrote: "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."