Written by Patricia Fann Bouteneff, “Invisible Leaders in the Orthodox Church” is most likely the first list of its kind that begins to acknowledge the powerful and important work of female members of the Orthodox Church. Patricia admits it is not exhaustive. Already, after posting the document on her Facebook page, many of her followers have submitted names of women carrying out noteworthy and life-changing work in a variety of diverse professions and ministries.
Patricia writes, “One of the better kept secrets in the Orthodox Church today is how many of our leaders are or have been female. They tend not to stand out, as we are trained to expect our leaders to wear cassocks, beards, and pectoral crosses or otherwise be male. But knowing about the specific roles women are playing in the Church today is important, all the more if you desire to fulfill your own calling. As the historian Eva C. Topping said in a 1998 interview in St. Nina Quarterly, “Women need to know their own history in the Church. … We cannot make the contributions women are called to make, unless we are first informed of our history and enlivened by the true vision of Orthodoxy that all are equal in Christ.” She is right: we women must know our history, but I would add that we have an even greater need to understand our present reality.”