Experience of a Student Female Pastor at WWU
By Ben Wexler
The Collegian met with Lynelle Bathan, student pastor at the Revival Project, to learn about the experience and importance of women in ministry. The following is a transcript of the conversation, with edits made for clarity.
Q: Could you introduce yourself?
Bathan: My name is Lynelle Bathan and I’m a sophomore theology major and current pastor at the Revival Project.
Q: Why did you want to become a pastor?
Bathan: I became passionate about the fact that interpretation of the Bible can come from so many different places. The way you interpret the Bible is going to be different from what I see in the Bible.
For some people, they look at the Bible and they can only speak from their whiteness or their maleness. My experience being the daughter of immigrants and people of color influences the way in which my ministry can reach people. For example, a white person might not be able to relate to people of color the way I might be able to relate to people of color.
Q: Is it important for women to be in ministry?
Bathan: It’s not common to have a spiritual leader that you can relate to in your community because it has different extensions on how you view God and religion. It’s not true that only one race, gender, and sexuality can be representatives for God.
In the same way, women can relate to other women and when you build those communities, you build church as a safe place for women where they don’t have to defend their identity.
Q: Have you encountered any challenges as a woman in ministry?
Bathan: Women are not in ministry to defend why they should be there. They’re there to be ministers, spiritual guides, chaplains, teachers, and pastors.
I have had my fair share of microaggressions and uncomfortable situations where it’s clearly about my gender or race. It’s usually not super aggressive, but usually it’s a subconscious microaggression. Power is undermined when you’re made to feel like you’re not at the level of preacher, even though you have the same credentials and same education.
Q: What has been some of your favorite things about your role at Revival Project?
Bathan: Being able to truly connect with people and watch a community grow has been one of my favorite things. It’s a goal of mine to connect with a couple of people at every service and make every single person in this small church feel welcome and seen.
Something unique about the Revival Project is that we like to tackle hard questions that other churches might avoid. We had two different series that tackled environmental justice and the experience of women in Christianity and how women fit into the Bible. We had women speakers sharing their stories in a discussion panel. The ability to provide that space for people who might not have other safe places on campus to share their story authentically has been immeasurable.
Q: What is your career goal?
Bathan: I would like to continue being a pastor while I get my academics done. My end goal is to be a professor of religion, preferably I have interests in liberation theology and feminist theology.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our community here at Walla Walla?
Bathan: Remember to support the women around you and come out to the Revival Project! We meet on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. in the SAC.
- Interview with Lynelle Bathan, 3/1/2022
Hey! My name is Ben. I'm from Los Angeles and studying business with a focus on marketing. When I'm not writing for The Collegian, you can find me making green smoothies and working on my side hustle reselling old clothes.