At Austin New Church in Austin, Texas, several parts of last Sunday’s Mother’s Day service featured feminine pronouns and imagery for God.
A video shows the worship team altering the chorus of the song “Good, Good Father” by Housefires featuring Pat Barrett. Also during the service, female pronouns for God were used in recitations of Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer.
Austin New Church describes itself as a progressive community “based on belonging, not beliefs.” Brandon and Jen Hatmaker founded the congregation in 2008 but are no longer mentioned on the church website. The couple divorced in 2020, after 27 years of marriage.
Austin New Church: ‘Now We Know Better’ Than To Limit God
In her message, Creative Pastor Samantha Beach Kiley says, “We profess that we all bear the image of God, but how can we see God in ourselves if we don’t see ourselves in God? If God is only male, if God is only white, what possibilities does that limit for those of us whose identity markers are different?” She quotes from Christena Cleveland’s book “God Is a Black Woman,” about how a “narrow” view of God restricts our imagination.
Kiley admitted the topic was daunting and full of “landmines”—including the risk of “just setting up another binary” by labeling God as female.
About Psalm 23, Kiley says, “David wrote as if God were Father. How could he not?… That was the outermost tree ring of revelation during his time, but now we know better… We get to read our Scripture with a more expansive method of interpretation.” She adds, “Even when David wrote to God as Father, God was already Mother. God was already both. God was already neither. Even if David couldn’t see it yet.”
Kiley was joined by her mother, Nancy Beach, who shared some Scriptures that use mothering imagery for God and Jesus. Then Beach asked, “What if God transcends gender?… How would our picture of God and our relationship to God be different and more whole if we could embrace this idea of God as Father as well as Mother?”
‘Great Faith Systems…Have Always Understood’ God As Female
In his message, Lead Pastor Jason Morriss said that as expansive as God-as-Mother might seem, it’s something “we should always have understood—that God is not contained in the binaries of our linguistic symbols.” For example, “We have always known that God is relentless in pursuit…and unconditional in love. These are the hallmarks of mothering.”